Nouri al-Maliki will retain his position as prime minister
Iraq’s parliament has finally agreed on its leadership, 249 days after the elections.
Under the agreement Nouri al-Maliki will retain his position as prime minister, having clinched the backing of various groups including anti-American Muqtadr al Sadir’s Mahdi Army. It is a decision likely to please neighbouring Iran, who had openly backed the Shia incumbent.
Kurdish president Jalal Talabani will continue in his role for another term and a Sunni MP from defeated Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya party will be appointed speaker of the house.
The decision was reached 10 November after months of discussions.
Although Ayad Allawi had secured the highest number of electoral votes, his pro-Western secular party only managed to secure 91 seats, 234 seats shy of the required 325. Maliki’s Shia State of Law party won 89 seats.
Allawi is expected to head a new security council and a member of his party is likely to be appointed as foreign minister. Maliki has one month to form a government.
The political stalemate, the longest ever recorded has been blamed for the declining levels in security. Iraq’s Christian community has been the target of Al-Qaeda attacks in recent weeks.