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Rival Iraqi Shia blocs agree to merge

5 May 2010 0:10

Iraq takes a major step towards forming its next government as two Shia electoral rivals agree to merge after weeks of limbo which followed inconclusive elections.

“An agreement was reached to form a parliamentary bloc through the union of the two blocs,” Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), said a statement read by former government advisor Razzaq al-Kadhami, according to AFP.

It is not yet clear who would succeed Maliki as prime minister.

Former Premier Iyad Allawi’s al-Iraqiya Alliance won the March 7 contest for the 325 seats in the Council of Representatives. It, however, failed to secure a majority, having won only 91 seats.

Maliki’s front won 89 seats and the rival Shia group 70.

The upcoming alliance of the two Shia fronts is still four seats short of a parliamentary majority.

Iraqi President Jalal al-Talibani’s Kurdistan Alliance has, meanwhile, said it would join the two factions should they form a partnership.

A recount of the ballots in the key Baghdad constituency, currently underway at Maliki’s request, could still affect the number of seats won by each party.

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