Third meeting of MPs since power-sharing agreement will not address key decisions on who will run new government.
|Talabani, right, charged al-Maliki to form a new government at a ceremony in Baghdad [AFP]|
Nouri al-Maliki, the incumbent Iraqi prime minister, has been asked by Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s president, to from a new government following the conclusion of a power-sharing deal between the country’s divided factions sealed two weeks ago.
“I charge you … Nouri al-Maliki to form the new government, which we hope will be a real national partnership government which will not exclude any faction,” Talabani said at a ceremony at Al-Salam presidential palace in Baghdad on Thursday.
“You have 30 days to form the cabinet.”
Following elections on March 7, Iraq set a new world record for the longest period between an election and a government being formed.
Thursday’s formal 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.”
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 nominate 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, who belongs to the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, as speaker of parliament, came after a power-sharing pact was agreed on November 10.
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.
Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf, 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.”
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.