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State of Law Coalition: We Have Returned to Sectarian Quota System | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc confirmed that new developments in their negotiations to form Iraq’s next government are set to be announced next week whilst Nouri al Maliki’s State of Law coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance headed by Ammar al Hakim are having difficulties forming an alliance. Sources close to the negotiations that ended yesterday said that this is due to differences in opinion over who should be Iraq’s next prime minister.

Khair-Allah al Basri, a member of the State of Law coalition that is led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, revealed that the [political] scene in Iraq is currently being ruled by a sectarian quota system. He told Asharq Al-Awsat, “The citizens believe that unity is the most important thing and this means eliminating the sectarian quota system. However due to our differences, we have made a mistake and returned once again to rely upon the principle of [sectarian] quotas in forming a government. Therefore, the Shia will not compromise their allocation with regards to the post of prime minister, believing this position to be a quota and monopoly of the two coalitions [the State of Law and National Iraqi Alliance].”

Al Basri also stressed that “the Sadrist trend, or even al Maliki, cannot give up this post, because their Marjas and their own people have imposed maintaining this post upon them. Therefore the two coalitions [State of Law and National Iraqi Alliance] must reach a mutual agreement to form the next government.”

During their last meeting, the State of Law coalition and National Iraqi Alliance failed to reach an agreement on a mechanism to select the leadership of the new alliance [to be formed between them], as well as the method of selecting their prime ministerial candidate. Sources close to the negotiations said that a meeting was scheduled to take place between the two parties on Wednesday but that this was cancelled for reasons yet to be announced, most likely due to outright differences.

Khair-Allah al Basri also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the most prominent obstacle to the announcement of an alliance is the fear of the brothers in the Sadrist trend. We are seeking to reassure them that the previous circumstances were circumstances of war, and that the current phase is one of peace, and we must rely upon figures who can be responsible especially as we share the same fate, and we cannot disagree even if a compromise candidate is put forward for the post of prime minister.”

The State of Law coalition had previously announced that its sole prime ministerial candidate would be Nouri al Maliki, which is what caused the dispute between the State of Law coalition and the National Iraqi Alliance. This is because a section of the National Iraqi Alliance, particularly the Sadrist trend, rejects al Maliki being re-elected for a second term in office.

For his part, Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a member of the National Iraqi Alliance and a senior member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, denied that negotiations between the State of Law coalition and the National Iraqi Alliance had reached an impasse. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that “despite difficulties, we cannot say that dialogue has reached a dead end.” He also indicated that “without all political blocs making concessions, not just the two coalitions [State of Law and National Iraqi Alliance], we will not be able to form a government.”

As for the most prominent dispute between the State of Law coalition and the National Iraqi Alliance, and whether this would be resolved by each party making concessions, al-Saghir said, “We do not want anybody to give in, but we want the other parties to understand the political reality, as a certain post cannot be decided according to the wishes of one party, but rather there must be a volume of votes supporting this, otherwise insistence on posts represents useless disruption that only adds to the tension between the parties.” He added, “Every post has its price, and this is something that is well-known and recognized by everybody, and whoever cannot pay this price cannot take up this post.”

As for the rumours that the National Iraqi Alliance is looking to take this issue to parliament, and is intending to put forward its own candidate, Iraqi Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi, for the premiership, al-Saghir confirmed that “if the issue is not resolved within the two coalitions [State of Law and National Iraqi Alliance] then there must be a specific position, and the answer might lie in resorting to parliament, which is the only means to resolving this issue.” He added, “As for Abdul-Mahdi, we believe that he is more than capable of steering the country amid this tension. Therefore, his inclusive nature, his ability to accommodate others and his credibility and commitment…all of this qualifies him for this position [of prime minister].”

For his part, Iraqiya bloc adviser Dr. Hani Ashour said that Iraqiya bloc leader Iyad Allawi will personally be involved in negotiations with other political blocs to form Iraq’s next government after Iraq’s election results were ratified. He said that these negotiations will focus upon the priorities of the negotiating parties, and reaching an understanding with their national importance.