06/09/2010, 00.00
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Baghdad, closed door negotiations for the formation of new government

The National Assembly will meet for the first time on June 14 and, as the first act, elect the speaker and two deputies. The union between the Shiite forces raises the candidacy of former Prime Minister al-Maliki, who must overcome opposition from the Sadrists. The Kurds tip the balance in the formation of the executive in exchange for oil rights and Kirkuk. Christians 5 seats, three more than the past.

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - More than three months after the elections, the new Iraqi parliament will meet for the first time on June 14.  As established the session was convened by the President of the Republic Jalal Talabani. Meanwhile, the feverish negotiations among the various political groupings is struggling to reach an agreement for the creation of new government even before June 14.

The Iraqi Constitution requires that the first act of the National Assembly is the election of its speaker, and his two deputies, followed by the new president of the republic. He will entrust the task of forming the next government - within 30 days - to the candidate indicated by the majority block. The crux is that the Federal Supreme Court has recently ruled that the majority party is not necessarily one that has won more seats at the polls, but can also form itself once the new Assembly has been convened.

This leaves the path open to the candidate from the new political alliance that has reunited the Shiite forces – from the coalition of former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (Alliance for the Rule of Law) and the Iraqi National Alliance, dominated by supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr .  However the candidate is yet to be decided.  Maliki's party Dawa, would like to see the outgoing premier reconfirmed for a second term, while the Sadrists do not.

This would leave the secular Iraqiya alliance of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in second place despite being the official winner at the polls, even if narrowly so. Iraqiya won 91 seats (out of 325), followed by Maliki's coalition (89 seats) and by the Iraqi National Alliance (70 seats). The pan-Shiite alliance has, therefore, a total of 159 seats, while the Kurds got 57, having also decided to join the group. For a vote of confidence in the government a quorum of 163 seats is needed.  This is why the Kurds alliance carries a great deal of weight.  They will certainly put two fundamental issues on the negotiating table: the question of oil (agreements made independent of the central government that Baghdad does not recognize) and the status of Kirkuk.

What is certain is that five Christians will sit Parliament. Their seats are part of the 14 total reserved for non-Muslims in the National Assembly. Last term, the Christians had only two seats. According Yonadam Kanna, one of five MPs and the Secretary General of the Christian Assyrian Democratic Movement, with a wider representation Christians can hope to achieve the implementation of policies aimed at greater community safety.  

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See also
Kirkuk: ex PM Allawi leading over Kurdish parties
Constitutional talks to begin homestretch
Baghdad bans two South Korean companies from oil fields
Nouri al-Maliki and the conundrum of Kirkuk
In Kirkuk Christian and Muslim leaders pray for peace in the country


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