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Ruling Iraq Shi''ite coalition to hold together - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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BAGHDAD,(Reuters) – Iraq”s ruling, Shi”ite-led coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, will contest December”s parliamentary election as a single electoral list, officials within the coalition said on Thursday.

Talks late into the night had resolved arguments that had threatened to break up the coalition, they said.

Among changes agreed, the movement of nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr would have a more formal role in the alliance, officials said.

&#34The Sadr movement will have a clearer role in the list this time,&#34 said Ali Dabagh, an Alliance member of parliament.

A formal announcement would be made later in the day, he said. Parties and coalitions have until Friday to get their names on the ballot paper for the Dec. 15 vote.

&#34The Alliance has reached a deal and they will go into the election with a full list,&#34 Abbas al-Bayati, another Alliance member of parliament told Reuters.

&#34Almost everyone on the previous list is in.&#34

Three principle Shi”ite Islamist movements are involved — the powerful Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), formed in exile in Iran to oppose Saddam Hussein and led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim; the Dawa party of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari; and Sadr”s movement.

Although Sadr has three allies in the present, interim cabinet, he has been ambivalent in public about the government. His armed supporters, the Mehdi Army, have clashed in recent months across Shi”ite southern Iraq with the Badr militia forces of Hakim”s SCIRI.

There had been speculation that the Alliance would break up and that rival Islamist lists, possibly opposing Dawa and Sadr on the one hand and SCIRI on the other, would run for seats.

Following ratification of a constitution this month, the new parliament will have full powers and a four-year term.

SUNNI ALLIANCE

On Wednesday, three leading parties from the Sunni Arab minority formed a coalition to contest the election, although other Sunni politicians are likely to campaign separately.

The two main Kurdish movements, which joined the Shi”ite-led Alliance in the interim government, have also agreed to run on a joint ticket again, despite long-standing rivalries.

Former prime minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shi”ite, has put together a broad list attempting to attract secular voters from across the sectarian and ethnic divides, Allawi”s office has said. It has yet to be formally unveiled.

In January, with Sunnis largely boycotting the poll, the United Alliance, running as &#34No. 169&#34 on a lengthy ballot paper, took a majority of seats in parliament, helped by the blessing of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, spiritual guide to much of the long oppressed, 60-percent Shi”ite majority.

Aides to the reclusive cleric, however, have indicated that he will refuse to back a specific party in the December vote.

&#34Ayatollah Sistani does not support any list so far,&#34 one of his aides said. &#34This might change later … We will see.&#34

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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