Iraq's Shi'ite alliance wants 'expanded national front' in vote

The exclusion from the Iraqi National Alliance of the Dawa Party fuelled speculation the prime minister may run on his own in January's parliamentary election.

Iraq's Shi'ite alliance wants 'expanded national front' in vote
A new Shi'ite-led political alliance that will contest Iraq's next election has not closed the door on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and may yet join with him for January's vote, a leading Shi'ite politician said.

Maliki may not have to formally join the Iraqi National Alliance, led by the powerful Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (ISCI), to ally himself with it if proposals for a looser "national front" bear fruit, ISCI leader Ammar al-Hakim said.

"All the possibilities are still valid, and the negotiations are continuing," Hakim said in an interview on Saturday.

"We are working hard to attract more parties, and there are many parties that will not join this alliance but be our allies in an expanded national front, including (Maliki's) Dawa Party, which might join the coalition or the front."

The exclusion from the Iraqi National Alliance of the Dawa Party fuelled speculation the prime minister may run on his own in January's parliamentary election.

ISCI in particular, and the movement of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, have held huge sway over Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and gave the country's Shi'ite majority political clout. The Sadrists are part of the INA.

The INA includes a few Kurds and Sunnis but is essentially Shi'ite. Both Sadr and ISCI are close to Tehran.

Maliki has said he wants to contest the election at the head of a broader, non-sectarian alliance, but politicians say a reason he did not join the INA was because it refused to guarantee him the prime minister's post again, or to give his small Dawa party greater say.

Hakim, who took over ISCI this month after the death, from cancer, of his father Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, said the question of who would become Iraq's next prime minister should be left until after the election.

"In ISCI we have no taboos about who should be prime minister, and we will deal with this point according to the result of the election," he said.


Reuters
Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2009, 20:05
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