Maliki gets second term as Iraq PM
Baghdad - Nuri al-Maliki was awarded a second term as Iraq's prime minister on Thursday, signalling an end may finally be in sight to the country's eight month impasse following a general election in March.
President Jalal Talabani's nomination of Maliki, delayed to give him as much time as possible to negotiate ministerial posts, comes after a power-sharing deal between Iraq's divided factions was sealed two weeks ago and gives Maliki 30 days to complete the difficult task of forming a cabinet.
The months-long tussle has seen Iraq shatter the world record for the longest period without a new government after polls.
Maliki was named prime minister-designate by Talabani, himself recently re-elected, at a ceremony at the Al-Salam presidential palace in Baghdad, images from state broadcaster Al-Iraqiya showed.
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 election, and each ministry and government post will cost a set number of points depending on its importance.
New statutory body
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, who first took the top job in 2006 when Iraq was mired in a brutal confessional war, 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.
The re-selection of Talabani, a Kurd, and Maliki, a Shi'ite, 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.
It 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 support of Iraqiya, which garnered most of its seats in Sunni areas of the predominantly Shi'ite 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, 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 lawmakers 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.