Iraq’s Rival Parties Resume Government Coalition Talks

Nori_al_malki-ayad_allawiIraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and former premier Iyad Allawi have resumed negotiations aimed at forming a government after falling out briefly over a sectarian row, senior politicians said on Friday.

Iraq has drifted in a dangerous political vacuum since a March election produced no outright winner.

Osama al-Nujaifi, a senior member of Allawi’s Iraqiya, said Allawi had agreed to resume talks with Maliki’s State of Law bloc after breaking off talks because Maliki described Allawi’s group as “Sunni”, rather than cross-sectarian.

“Allawi received a letter the day before yesterday from Maliki regarding the last stand made by Iraqiya. I am not aware of the details of the letter but Allawi considers that the letter is sufficient to reconcile and overcome the situation,” Nujaifi told Reuters.

Ali al-Dabbagh, a senior State of Law member, said he visited Allawi on Thursday to restart negotiations and handed him two proposals — one on forming a coalition government and the second on political and administrative reform.

“We are seeking to bring together Allawi and Maliki in a private meeting to bring things back to its normal course and to have serious negotiations started between the two lists,” Dabbagh told Reuters. “We are making a new approach. It talks about creating an equation for partnership.”

Allawi and Maliki have been locked in a tussle over who has the right to form the next government. Talks on working together began after Maliki failed to overcome resistance among many of his Shiite allies to his ambitions for a second term.

The political uncertainty has been accompanied by persistent attacks.

Abdul-Mahdi al-Kerbalai, a representative of Iraq’s most revered cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged all parties on Friday to put aside their differences and to not delay further in forming a government.

“We warn of serious and grave consequences and a reaction from the Iraqi people if the delay in forming a government continues. We warn them and say that the people are losing their patience,” Kerbalai said in Friday prayers in the holy city of Karbala.


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