Rival Iraqi Shia blocs agree to merge
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.