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Iraq poll rivals meet

The former Iraqi Premier, Ayad Allawi (left) and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad on Saturday. Photo: AP

The former Iraqi Premier, Ayad Allawi (left) and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad on Saturday. Photo: AP   | Photo Credit: IRAQI GOVERNMENT

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The leaders of two rival political alliances battling to run Iraq's new government took a step toward ending their power dispute, as the Sunni-backed coalition that won March elections now faces being sidelined in Parliament.

The 90-minute meeting between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the former Premier, Ayad Allawi, was their first since the March 7 vote, and was described by aides as more of an icebreaker than the start of serious negotiations.

Narrow lead

The secular but Sunni-dominated Iraqiya coalition that Mr. Allawi heads risks losing a grasp on its narrow electoral triumph due to infighting and outmanoeuvring by Mr. Al-Maliki and his fellow Shia rivals. As the new legislature convenes on Monday, that prospect is serving as a lesson in Iraq's nascent democracy, where rules can bend.

It also, more ominously, raises the possibility of a revitalised militancy if Sunnis conclude that they have no place in government as U.S. troops pull out of Iraq.

Iraqiya alliance is struggling to capture key government posts — a task that should have been all but certain after it took more than a quarter of Parliament's 325 seats in the vote.

Iraqiya won 91 seats, two more than its closest rival. But Mr. Allawi, a secular Shia, has little if any chance to reclaim the Prime Minister's job he held in 2004-05, and risks top Cabinet positions for Sunni allies if he insists on it, according to Iraqi officials close to ongoing negotiations.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 1:19:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Iraq-poll-rivals-meet/article16243213.ece

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