Jawad al-Maliki named Iraqi prime minister

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

In the first meeting of the Iraqi parliament since general elections were held four months ago, Jawad al-Maliki of the Islamic Al'Dawa Party, a member of the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance, has been named prime minister-designate of Iraq by President Jalal Talabani. He will replace interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, whose candidacy for the permanent position led to an impasse in negotiations to form a national unity government.

According to Adnan Pachachi, acting parliament speaker, al-Maliki has one month to present his list of cabinet minister to Parliament for approval. Should al-Maliki's Cabinet fail to win support, someone else will be asked to form a government.

Also elected during the initial meeting was Sunni politician Mahmoud al-Mashhadani as the speaker of the Council of Representatives. Khalid al-Attiya, a Shiite, and Aref Tayfour, a Kurd will serve as deputies. Talabani was also re-elected as Iraqi president during the meeting.

Al-Maliki called on the formation of a national unity government "to eradicate injustice that the Iraqis have suffered." "We will work as one family to lead the political process, not based on our differences, sects or parties," al-Maliki said.

Reaction has been mostly positive so far. Sunni leader Tariq al-Hashimi of the Iraqi Islamic Party pledged to work with al-Maliki, and to "work together in order to form a unity government."

Kurdish leaders have not commented thus far, but independent Kurdish politician Mahmoud Othman was said to have welcomed al-Maliki's nomination. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also welcomed al-Maliki's nomination as an "important milestone" for the Iraqis.

Sunnis, Kurds, and secularists have opposed al-Jaafari's renomination, citing weak leadership and sectarian strife.