Middle East

Iraq breaks record for time taken to form a government

Members of the National Alliance agree the nomination of Nouri Maliki for PM (1 October 2010)
The bargaining between Iraq's political parties has gone round in circles

Political parties in Iraq have broken the world record for the amount of time taken to form a new government.

In 1977, it took 208 days for Dutch politicians to agree to a coalition.

Correspondents say the Iraqis are likely to take a good deal longer, as more negotiations are needed to resolve March's inconclusive election result.

On Friday, the main Shia coalition said it had only now decided to nominate the incumbent Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, for a second term of office.

But the National Alliance - a merger of Mr Maliki's State of Law coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance - is four seats short of the parliamentary majority needed to confirm the appointment.

The secular Iraqiya bloc led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, which narrowly won the election, has said it will oppose such a move.

All-inclusive

It took nearly three months just for the results of Iraq's parliamentary election on 7 March to be ratified, after numerous complaints and appeals.

Since then, the BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says, the bargaining has gone round in circles.

Neither Mr Allawi, whose alliance got most of the Sunni Arab vote and came out narrowly ahead with 91 seats in the Council of Representatives, nor Mr Maliki, whose State of Law coalition came second with two seats fewer, has been able to muster a big enough coalition to make a majority, our correspondent says.

However, neither is willing to give up and let the other lead the new government, and that is what it is about, he adds.

All agreed at the outset that the four major factions - including the Iraqi National Alliance and the Kurdistan Alliance - should all be included.

And despite agreement now by most Shia groups to nominate Mr Maliki's for the premiership, there is still a lot of ground to cover before he can settle back into the job, our correspondent says.

The Iraqis seem likely to push the record quite a bit further than the Dutch, he adds.

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