The Mutahidoun bloc, led by incumbent speaker of parliament Osama Al-Nujaifi, won 29 seats in the country’s general election at the end of April, making it the largest Sunni Arab bloc in Iraq’s Council of Representatives.
The bloc issued a statement on Saturday saying it intended to form a new coalition of Sunni Arab parties, aimed at “uniting the [Sunni] electoral lists spread across the country, mainly in the six provinces that saw the social and political uprisings.”
Last year, Iraq’s Sunni majority provinces—Anbar, Diyala, Karbala, Nineveh, Salah Al-Din and Kirkuk—witnessed a series of protests by the Sunni population against what they said was sectarian bias on the part of Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s government.
Anbar remains in a state of crisis, with insurgents—many of them members of the Al-Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—battling government forces for control of key cities in the province.
“The [Mutahidoun] coalition is now busy unifying its ranks and will present a new negotiation document that includes specific demands for each of these [six] provinces,” the statement continued.
The statement said the list of demands would be handed to the Shi’ite-majority National Alliance’s candidate for the post of prime minister.
In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Mutahidoun MP Talal Al-Zoubai said his coalition would focus “on the legitimate demands of the masses that took to the streets in the six provinces that witnessed the uprisings,” adding that his coalition would no longer tolerate the continuation of the “marginalization and exclusion” of Sunnis.
When asked whether Mutahidoun was in favor of a national unity government or one formed from a simple parliamentary majority, Zoubai said: “We do not support a political majority government because we believe that the circumstances are not mature enough for such a government.”
Zoubai maintained that his bloc insisted on holding the parliamentary speaker’s post, and reaffirmed that it remained opposed to a third term for Maliki.
“This issue is completely settled for us. There will be no third term for Maliki under any circumstances,” he added.
Taken together, Iraq’s three Sunni lists won 44 seats. The secular Wataniya bloc led by former prime minister Iyad Allawi also took a large number of Sunni votes, winning 21 seats.
Iraq’s post-election political scene remains uncertain, as no party won an overall majority of seats in Iraq’s 328-seat parliament. Maliki’s State of Law coalition became the largest bloc, winning 92 seats.
Despite his determination to remain in office, Maliki has yet to decide whether to rejoin the National Alliance, which would bring him close to the 165-seat majority he needed to form a government.
Other members of the alliance say they wish to put their own candidate for prime minister forward, while Maliki says his own State of Law coalition should have the first chance to form the next government.