Shias move to form coalition

news: Shias move to form coalition

Moves to form a new government in Iraq are underway following the announcement of full election results. The Shia United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) says it wants to name a new prime minister after it was confirmed as winning a few per cent short of half the vote. However, the bloc will not have a parliamentary majority on its own – Kurdish groups, which came second, are seen as potential partners and the process of forming a coalition is likely to take several weeks. The interim government’s finance minister, Adel Abdel Mahdi, is widely tipped as the UIA’s candidate for prime minister. He commented that his alliance, which is backed by Iraq’s most senior Shia Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, was “seeking to realise a wide national harmony” in choosing key positions. The new parliament will be tasked with writing a constitution and the representation of the Shia bloc falls far short of the two-thirds majority needed for that. According to results released by Iraq’s election commission on Sunday, 58 per cent of registered Iraqis turned out to vote in the January 30 poll and the Shia alliance took 48 per cent of ballots cast. A secular list led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi got 14 per cent, while ethnic Kurdish parties won 26 per cent of the vote. The results have been described as provisional, since parties were given three days to lodge any appeals.

US President, George W Bush, congratulated Iraqi voters “for defying terrorist threats and setting their country on the path of democracy and freedom”. UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, also said Iraq had taken another important step towards a democratic future.