Maliki formally appointed PM
AFP, Thursday 25 Nov 2010
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani formally named Nouri Al-Maliki to a second term as Iraq's premier on Thursday

President Jalal Talabani formally named Nouri Al-Maliki to a second term as Iraq's premier on Thursday, giving him 30 days to form a cabinet after an eight-month impasse following elections.

The move was priorly delayed to give Maliki as much time as possible to negotiate with his rivals. In the meantime, the announcement signals an end to the protracted political battle between Iraq's factions. Maliki first took the top job in 2006 at a time of brutal sectarian conflict,

The tussle has seen Iraq shatter the world record for the longest period without a new government after polls.

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

He had earlier been expected to name Maliki as premier 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.

Talabani handed Maliki an official letter asking him to form the government, in a ceremony at the Al-Salam presidential palace, Maliki's media advisor told AFP.

Majid said that among those attending were around 20 members of Maliki's pan-Shiite coalition, the National Alliance, as well as 10 members each from the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc and the main Kurdish grouping.

The country's political blocs have all formed committees to negotiate their share of ministries and cabinet positions, which will be apportioned via a points-based system.

Each bloc will be assigned points based on its success in the March 7 elections, and each ministry and government post will cost a set number of points depending on its importance.

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

The deal also established a new statutory body to oversee security as a sop to ex-premier Iyad Allawi, who had held out for months to regain the top job after his Iraqiya bloc narrowly won the most seats in the March 7 poll.

The body, known as the National Council for Strategic Policy is yet to be created, and requires a bill to be passed in parliament.

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

The Sunni minority which dominated Saddam Hussein's regime was the bedrock of the anti-US insurgency after the 2003 invasion.

Despite being lauded by international leaders including US President Barack Obama, 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 in protest.

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 lawmakers appeared to have salvaged the deal after leaders from the country's three main blocs met and agreed to reconcile and address the MPs' grievances.