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Al-Jaafari Ally is New Nominee for Iraq PM

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060421/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq Al-Jaafari Ally New Nominee for Iraq PM By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer 13 minutes ago
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 21, 2006
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060421/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

      Al-Jaafari Ally New Nominee for Iraq PM

      By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer 13
      minutes ago

      BAGHDAD, Iraq - Shiite politicians agreed Friday to
      nominate Jawad al-Maliki as prime minister, replacing
      the incumbent in a bid to clear the way for a
      long-delayed new government, two Shiite officials
      said.

      Al-Maliki is a top ally of outgoing Prime Minister
      Ibrahim al-Jaafari, whose nomination had sparked sharp
      opposition from Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders and
      caused a deadlock lasting months.

      Leaders of the seven parties that make up the Shiite
      alliance agreed on al-Maliki's nomination in a meeting
      Friday evening, said Jalal Eddin al-Sagheer, a member
      of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in
      Iraq, the largest party in the alliance.

      Al-Maliki won the nomination with agreement from six
      of the parties, said another SCIRI official, Ridha
      Jawad Taqi. The seventh party, Fadhila, had presented
      its own candidate, but only five of seven parties were
      needed to win a "consensus" agreement on a nominee.

      The Shiite nominee is to be presented to a session of
      parliament on Saturday.

      If Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties accept al-Maliki —
      and some have indicated they will — it could be a
      breakthrough in the two-month standoff that has
      prevented the forming of a national unity government.

      Al-Maliki is one of the top figures in al-Jaafari's
      Dawa party and has often appeared as his spokesman.
      Still, little is known about him since he fled Iraq in
      the 1980s, settling in
      Syria and working in Dawa's political office. He
      returned to Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein in
      2003.

      SCIRI and other parties in the alliance had initially
      expressed opposition to al-Maliki because it feared he
      would be unacceptable to Sunni Arabs.

      Al-Maliki was a top official in the commission in
      charge of purging members of Saddam's ousted Baath
      Party from the military and government. Sunnis, who
      made up the backbone of the Baath Party, consider the
      commission a means of squeezing them out of influence
      in post-Saddam Iraq.

      But the Dawa party warned of further problems within
      the alliance if al-Maliki were rejected after Dawa
      leader al-Jaafari was forced to give up the
      nomination.

      Sunnis appeared willing to take al-Maliki, after
      fiercely opposing a second term for al-Jaafari, who
      bowed out Thursday.

      "If anyone is nominated except al-Jaafari, we won't
      put any obstacles in his way. He will receive our
      support," Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the main Sunni
      Arab coalition in parliament, told The Associated
      Press.

      Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish lawmaker, said the Kurdish
      parties had no opposition to al-Maliki.

      The Shiites are the biggest bloc in parliament but
      lack the strength to govern without Sunni and Kurdish
      partners. As the biggest bloc, the Shiites get first
      crack at the prime minister's job.

      Al-Jaafari had held out for weeks against increasing
      pressure on him to step aside.

      Sunni and Kurdish politicians blamed the rise of
      sectarian tensions on al-Jaafari for failing to rein
      in Shiite militias and Interior Ministry commandoes,
      accused by the Sunnis of harboring death squads. Those
      parties refused to join any government headed by
      al-Jaafari.

      He stepped down after Iraq's most powerful Shiite
      cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, sent word that
      he should go, according to some lawmakers.

      U.S officials are insisting that the Iraqis move
      quickly to form a new government to begin the task of
      confronting sectarian violence and the armed
      insurgency. The Bush administration hopes such a
      government will curb Iraq's slide toward anarchy and
      enable the U.S. to begin bringing home its 133,000
      troops.

      __

      Associated Press correspondent Salah Nasrawi
      contributed to this report from Cairo, Egypt.
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