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Middle East
Iraq PM sworn in for second term
Nouri al-Maliki has 30 days to form a new cabinet and end an eight-month political impasse since March elections.
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2010 11:13 GMT
Talabani, right, has given al-Maliki 30 days to form a cabinet after an eight-month impasse since the March 7 poll [AFP]

Nouri al-Maliki has been sworn in as Iraq's prime minister for a second term, and has one month to form a new cabinet and end the eight-month political deadlock.

The nomination of al-Maliki by Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, to another term in office follows the conclusion of a power-sharing deal between the country's divided factions sealed two weeks ago.

The nomination, delayed to give al-Maliki as much time as possible to negotiate with his political rivals, signals an end to the protracted political battle between Iraq's factions.

Al-Maliki called on the Iraqi people to support the security forces as they fight the insurgent threat, and called for political blocs to present candidates for the cabinet who had "experience, loyalty and integrity".

"The coming government will be committed to reconstruction and providing services," al-Maliki said after his nomination, according to media adviser, Yassin Majid. "It will be a government of partnership, no one will be neglected."

Since the poll on March 7, Iraq set a new world record for the longest period between an election and a government being formed.

Al-Maliki, who first took the role in 2006, was sworn in as prime minister in a ceremony at the president's office on Thursday.

Power-sharing

Under Iraq's constitution, Talabani was allowed 15 days to appoint a prime minister following his re-election by members of parliament on November 11.

He had earlier been expected to name al-Maliki as prime minister last Sunday, immediately after the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, but delayed the decision to give the incumbent more time to negotiate ministerial posts.

The re-selection of Talabani, a Kurd, and al-Maliki, a Shia, to their posts and the naming of Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni Arab as speaker of parliament, came after a power-sharing pact was agreed on November 10.

Special Report

The accord also established a new statutory body to oversee security as a sop to Iyad Allawi, Iraq's former prime minister, who had held out for months to regain the leadership after his Iraqiya bloc narrowly led the seats tally in the March 7 poll.

The support of Iraqiya, which garnered most of its seats in Sunni areas, is widely seen as vital to preventing a resurgence of inter-confessional violence.

The Sunnis, who dominated Saddam Hussein's regime, formed the bedrock of the anti-US insurgency after the 2003 invasion.

Jane Arraf, Al Jazeera's correspondent reporting from Baghdad, said the swearing-in ceremony will "set the clock ticking for al-Maliki" to build a "balanced government".

"He has an extremely difficult task ahead of him, these next 30 days are going to be a very tough sell for all of these parties that all want something very important in this government," she said.

"It took a record eight months to actually come up with this coalition, but now what al-Maliki has to do is put all those people in the competing positions that backed him into slots in the government and he has a month to do that from today."

Challenges

Despite being lauded by international leaders including Barack Obama, the US president, the power-sharing pact has looked fragile ever since.

A day after it was agreed, about 60 Iraqiya MPs walked out of a session of parliament, protesting that it was not being honoured.

The bloc's MPs had wanted three of its senior members, barred before the election for their alleged ties to Saddam's banned Baath party, to be reinstated immediately.

Two days later, however, Iraq's legislators appeared to have salvaged the deal after leaders from the country's three main parties met and agreed to reconcile and address the MPs' grievances.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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