Saturday, October 2, 2010

Iraq: chances for Al-Maliki to remain prime minister increase after Al-Sadr drops objections

The BBC today reminds us that Iraqi politicians broke the world record of the time taken to form a coalition government, which up till now was in the hands of my fellow Dutch (in 1977 it took er 208 days a liberal-confessional coalition was only formed, after the formation of a second cabinet Den Uyl -Van Agt after long and fruitless negotiations failed to materialize).
Yet, on the same day that the record was broken, an important hurdle was taken in Baghdad which till  now precluded the formation of a new Iraqi government.

On Friday, the main Shia coalition said it had only now decided to nominate the incumbent Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki (top picture), for a second term of office, after the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gave up his longstanding objections. However, this is still not the end to the problems, because the National Iraqi Alliance - a merger of Mr Maliki's State of Law coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance is short of a parliamentary majority.
The reason that Muqtada al-Sadr (picture under) gave up his objections against al-Maliki's candidacy which he had held all the time since March are said to be due to strong pressure of Iran, which country  had favoured Al-Maliki  all the way, because in this way the Shia majority would remain in power and does not have to give ay to the Iraqiyya  bloc of Iyad al-Allawi (91 seats), who has the backing of the main Sunni formations (and till now also of the USA). 

However, Al Maliki needs more support. In order  to get the green light in parliament he needs 163 votes. So far he probably has 153. The 89 of his own State of Law (SOL), and the 70 of the INA minus 6 votes of the Fadila faction in this bloc, which still refuses to back Al-Maliki, (INA consists of  ISCI of Ammar al-Hakim (10 members), the Badr movement of the cleric Moqtada Sadr (40), Fadila (6) and independents (4).

It is thought that Al-Maliki and SOL wil now try to get the support of the Kurdish Alliance which has 43 seats. It it not a foregone conclusion, however, that he will get this easily. Analysts predict that tough negotiations are still ahead. .

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