8 November 2010
Leaders of Iraq's main political groups have met in public for the first time since the March elections. They are trying to reach agreement on the formation of a new government before parliament is due to meet on Thursday.
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It's the first time all of Iraq's top leaders have got together since the elections more than eight months ago. Opening the meeting the Kurdish leader, Masoud Marzani, who is presiding over the initiative which is currently providing the framework for efforts to form a government, said that just bringing all the leaders together in one place was, in itself, a national achievement.
Nouri Al-Maliki, who now seems almost certain to keep his job as prime minister, said a new page had to be turned in order to achieve the national entente needed for security and development. But the man who came narrowly ahead of him in the elections, Iyad Allawi, stressed the need for real power-sharing, including in the decision making process. The question now is whether he and the large Sunni vote which supported him, will come out of this conference with assurances of a big enough share of power to ensure their participation in the new government.
The deal that is shaping up envisages Mr Maliki staying on as prime minister and Jalal Talabani, who is Kurdish, retaining the presidency. Mr Allawi's coalition would be given the speakership of parliament and also the presidency of a new national council for higher policy. Mr Allawi wants that council to have real powers, not just a consultative role, and that is the core issue likely to dominate the discussions.
Jim Muir, BBC News, Baghdad
Click to hear the vocabulary:
- got together
met or had a meeting
- presiding over
leading or managing
- a new page had to be turned
a new beginning or fresh start is essential
agreement or alliance
- the need for
the importance or significance of
- shaping up
evolving or at an early stage of development
works on the assumption of
union or combination (of political groups or parties)
chairmanship or official responsible for managing debates and voting (in parliament)
- a consultative role
a position of providing advice which does not necessarily have to be followed or implemented