London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said on Thursday that the next premiership will only come out of the State of Law coalition, indicating that he will remain Prime Minister for a second term as there are no other candidates from the coalition for this position.
Al Maliki made this statement at the end of the “political banquet” held by the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Thursday for leaders of the political blocs and members of electoral lists who won in the legislative elections that took place last March.
In a brief statement, al Maliki told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the premiership will not leave the two allied coalitions,” in reference to the State of Law coalition headed by al Maliki and the National Iraqi Alliance headed by Ammar al Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, adding that “the premiership will not leave the State of Law coalition.”
President Jalal Talabani gathered over 50 leaders and members of the blocs that were successful in the recent legislative elections at a luncheon held on Thursday. Director of the Office of the Iraqi President Nizar Mohammed Saeed explained that the names of those who were invited were chosen “through coordination between the President’s office and the electoral blocs.”
A number of politicians who attended the luncheon described the meeting as successful. Mohammed Allawi, a leading figure within the Iraqiya List stated that “as usual, President Talabani was able to break the ice between the electoral blocs by bringing them together at the lunch table.” “President Talabani welcomed the invitees and called on them to speed up the forming of the next government [and for it] to be a government of national partnership,” added Allawi. He indicated that “everybody who spoke at this meeting emphasized the principle of partnership in the next government and this is promising.”
Iyad Allawi, head of the Iraqi National List, was absent from the gathering. The Iraqi President read out an apology letter from Allawi for his absence in which he expressed his wish that he could have attended the meeting but was committed to another meeting abroad. He expressed his hope that they would gather in another meeting soon.
Mohammed Allawi stated that “the leader of the Iraqiya List had to attend a meeting with the Jordanian monarch King Abdullah II and the meeting had already been postponed twice and it had to be held.” He added, “The Vice President and a leading figure within the Iraqiya List, Tariq al Hashemi, represented the list.”
Other leaders from the Iraqiya List who attended the luncheon included Hussein al Shaalan and Mohammed Allawi, and Rasim al Awadi who went into the banqueting hall holding onto Nouri al Maliki’s hand. Al Awadi told Asharq Al-Awsat, “We spoke and laughed like friends, and this is not related to negotiations or the premiership.”
Tariq al Hashemi called for the necessity of speeding up the formation of the government and said that the outgoing government is responsible for what is happening now in Iraq. Al Maliki responded by stating that “what is happening is normal.”
Mohammed Allawi explained that “the Iraqiya List is acting in accordance with its electoral achievement in forming the next government,” and added that “the real negotiations between the blocs will take place after the results of the elections have been verified by the federal court.”