Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Iraqi parliament due to vote on formation of new government

Iraqi parliament is due to vote on the formation of new government later today, following Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's selection of 42 nominees for ministerial posts after more than nine of political deadlock.

The new parliament will represent all major factions including the Kurds, Shi'a and Sunni Muslims. Iraqi lawmakers are schedualed to cast their votes on al-Maliki's nominees – which leaves Kurdish foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari in place and includes current oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani as deputy prime minister for energy – later this morning.

Al-Maliki was set to unveil his selection on Monday 20th December, but prolonged negotiations between rival factions delayed the proceedings and the parliament adjourned without the selection. Experts say that there will be disagreements among the nominees, and some will meet resistance from rival faction members but the real test of the coalition will be when the newly selected government gets down to work to tackle many of Iraq's ongoing problems.

A record breaking nine months of political deadlock was broken when former prime minister Iyad Allawi - whose Sunni-backed coalition won the most seats in Iraq's March election - ended weeks of wavering and said he would join a new government unveiled on Monday. His decision has paved the way for co-operation between Iraq's Shi'a, Sunni and Kurdish political factions.

Speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi said that al-Maliki had met the deadline to designate Iraq's new government and that the vote could take place as early as Tuesday 22nd December. Al-Nujaifi, member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance that won the most seats in the March election, fought al-Maliki from keeping his job until this month.

Speaking about the task in hand al-Maliki said, “The formation of national unity government in Iraq is a difficult and hard task because we need to find place in the government for all those who participated and won in the elections.”

Sources: BBC News, Alsumaria, Reuters, Tehran Times

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

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