President Jalal Talabani on Tuesday called the first session of Iraq's new parliament for June 14, more than three months after election.
The election was won by the cross-sectarian Iraqiya alliance of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, with the heavy backing of Iraq's once-dominant Sunni minority.
But Iraqiya fell short of a majority, forcing tense negotiations between fractious Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish blocs.
Allawi is being challenged for the right to form the government by the two main Shi'ite groups of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Moqtada al-Sadr, who say they will join forces to become the largest bloc in parliament.
A spokesman for Maliki's Dawa Party, the lead party in the State of Law alliance that polled second in the election, said party committees from the two blocs were working together to secure a majority.
Together, State of Law and the third-placed Iraqi National Alliance grouped around Sadr, would still fall four seats short of a majority in the 325-seat parliament.
The two are squabbling over who should be prime minister, with Maliki resisting pressure from the INA to step aside.
"We will be presented in the first session of the parliament as a single bloc," Dawa Party spokesman Haider al-Abadi told Reuters.
Allawi has warned that Iraq risks sliding back into sectarian violence if his Sunni-backed bloc is left out of power.
The Supreme Court certified the results of the election on June 1 after a recount and appeals process that changed nothing.
Iraqi political analyst Ibrahim al-Sumaidaie said coalition talks depended on pressure from regional powers -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria -- the conflict between the main political blocs and the backing of the United States.
"The constitutional time limit is two to three months, so they have time," he said.
ReutersLast Mod: 08 Haziran 2010, 16:25