Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Iraqi political leaders in power-sharing talks

Iraq's political leaders have met, in the city of Irbil, for the first time since the March elections, in an attempt to break the eight month political deadlock that's gripped the country. The talks are to be resumed later today in the country's capital city of Baghdad.

Iraqi officials have said that there are major obstacles to be overcome before all parties reach a power-sharing agreement. The purpose of the meetings, the first of which was hosted by Kurdish regional president Masoud Barzani, is to form a government of national unity, that includes Shi'a, Sunnis and Kurds, before a parliamentary session on Thursday [11th November].

The political leaders are yet to agree on nominations for prime minister, president and speaker in time for the parliamentary session. The two men in the running for the post of prime minister, the incumbent Nouri al-Maliki and his opponent Iyad Allawi, are at the crux of the political deadlock.

Al-Maliki has more or less won the battle to assemble coalition allies and according to experts it would be highly surprising if he was ousted from his current position. However, it has become increasing clear, over the course of the last eight moths, that everybody in Iraq wants a government of national unity which would embrace all the major groups in the country including Allawi's al-Iraqiyya which won the bulk of the Sunni vote. In the past, Sunni exclusion was a major factor fuelling insurgency in Iraq.

Allawi is in the process of seeking a new "National Council for Strategic Policy" with decision-making powers equal to the prime minister's. But al-Maliki is refusing to allow the powers of his office to be diluted, arguing it would be unconstitutional and ineffective. This is believed to be the key issue holding up power-sharing talks. The political deadlock has been ongoing since March when neither Maliki's State of Law bloc nor Allawi's al-Iraqiyya movement secured an outright majority of seats, making Iraq world record breaker for the longest time taken to form a new government.

Source: BBC News

For more news and expert analysis about Iraq, please see Iraq Focus.

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