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Bumpy Road Ahead to Form New Iraqi Gov't

Iraqi politicians are facing a crisis in their attempt to form a transitional government to rule the country.

It has almost been four weeks since the 275-seat National Assembly (NA) was elected, but power jockeying among politicians for top posts prevented the convening of its first session, and the political haggling might last for another week.


Two matters are believed to hinder an agreement before the holding of the first session of the NA.


One is how to bring the Sunnis into the political fold, most of whom boycotted the elections and think marginalizing them would mean failure of the political process and increase tension and instability.


Meanwhile, the Kurds seek a guarantee to bring the oil-rich Kirkuk into the Kurdish region, a federal system and a number of important ministries.


Observers said the Kurds have rights to take any position in a democratic way. As for other demands, they should be decided inside the NA and in line with the permanent constitution.


Unless the parties reach a quick coordination in distributing the positions, disputes would remain.


Under the interim constitution, the NA should start work by electing its chairman and then a president as well as his two deputies, who should unanimously choose a prime minister. The premier then should, with his cabinet members, gain approval of the NA.


The problem facing the politicians and their parties is that the elections did not produce any dominant power in the NA.


With 140 seats in hand, the United Iraqi Alliance is still not eligible to choose the presidential body, which should be elected with a two thirds majority of the NA.


They are trying to find an ally from other parties, but the problem is that the Kurds, who took the second place in terms of seat number, had set conditions on alliance.


The US occupation authorities had distributed positions along the sectarian and ethnic line of the Iraqi society, giving the position of president to Sunnis, prime minister to Shiites and parliament speaker to the Kurds.


Everyone had accepted that, but the elections are to bring about new power makeup in the country.


The Kurds have nominated Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish leader, for the position of president, and Shiites named Ibrahim Jaafari as candidate for prime minister, while outgoing Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite, wanted to keep his post.


Allawi's list came in the third place in the NA, with only 40 seats, which would not enable him to get any position unless he teams up with the Kurds, who have 75 seats.


Many Iraqis from outside these parties prefer Allawi. About 200 Iraqi figures, among them artists, tribal leaders, businessmen and local officials, called on keeping Allawi until the writing of the constitution, but the interim constitution would not allow that unless the Shiite block agreed.


This possibility looks dim at present, for major parties would not give up their candidates.


Shiite parties have exerted efforts to achieve their goals in the elections in a way that would allow them to take the position of prime minister and key posts related to security.


(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2005)

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