A delegation from the Iraqiya party visited the marjaiya in Najaf to discuss the formation of the new government. The meeting seems to have had a positive effect. Meanwhile, at least two Iraqis were killed and five more were wounded in light violence.
Iraqiya party head Ayad Allawi met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who assured the Iraqiya delegation that no group would be marginalized by the new government. Although Iraqiya won the most seats in the new parliament, it did not win enough to pick a new prime minister outright. Al-Sistani, who is the most influential Shi’ite cleric in Iraq, stressed unity while expressing a desire to hasten the formation of the new government. Allawi lauded al-Sistani’s non-partisan stance.
To undermine Iraqiya’s right to form the new government, second-place State of Law formed a coalition with the Iraqi National Alliance. As part of their terms, the marjaiya, headed by Sistani, would gain a greater say in politics.
Curiously, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reversed direction this week and now wants to slow the formation of the new government, citing fears of sectarian violence. Since the March election, Maliki has been using every method available to ensure another turn as Iraq’s premier and shutting out the Sunnis. He leads the State of Law party.
Meanwhile, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is fighting to maintain his power base in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Election appeals were filed by four candidates who lost their seats when ballots were recounted.
In Baghdad, a bomb killed a civilian in Mansour. A bomb in Adhamiya wounded a civilian. Last night, a bomb killed a Sahwa member, also in Adhamiya. A hostage was freed and two I.E.D.s were defused. Several prominent al-Qaeda suspects were captured.
In Mosul, the army closed a gate to the election center after security concerns were raised.
No casualties were reported in Ramadi after gunmen blew up two homes belonging to policemen.
Six wanted suspects were picked-up in Amara.
A wanted suspect was captured in Balad Ruz and another in Diwaniya.
A wanted suspect was arrested in Kut.
An al-Qaeda militant was sentenced to death in connection with the deaths of five Russian diplomats in 2006.
The Najaf Provincial Council accused the Transportation Minister Amir Abduljabbar and his Ministry of anti-Najaf sentiment and banned the minister and ministry vehicles from the province.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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