For weeks, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law list and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC)-Sadrist led Iraqi National Alliance have been talking about being on the verge of a merger. Everyday officials from either list would say that the two sides were going to come to an agreement soon. They actually agreed upon a committee to come up with a candidate for prime minister. Now all of that has come to an end for two reasons.
First, State of Law has given up on any agreement with the National Alliance for now. The number one reason is that the Sadrists, who won the most seats within the list, are opposed to Maliki returning to power. On April 11, 2010 Moqtada al-Sadr called Maliki a liar, and said that he had sent the security forces after his followers. Sadr is still bitter over the Prime Minister’s crackdown on the Mahdi Army in 2008 as well. Not only that, but SIIC chief Ammar Hakim recently said that he didn’t think Maliki could return to power because he lacks the necessary support. That has led State of Law to veto the committee idea, and Maliki himself said that the talks had gone nowhere on April 21.
The second reason is because Maliki has decided to push for a manual re-count of the votes. As soon as it appeared that his State of Law would not win the most seats in the election, the list began complaining of fraud and misconduct. At one point they claimed that they had evidence that they had been cheated out of 750,000 votes. On April 19, Maliki partially got his way when a court ordered a re-count of the votes in Baghdad province, the largest in Iraq. State of Law beat the Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement there 26 to 24, but they are hoping that another tally of the votes will give them an even bigger lead, one large enough to push them into first place. Winning doesn’t mean as much this year because the Iraqi Supreme Court has ruled that it’s not the winner of the election that has the first right to put together a ruling coalition, but the list that can form the largest alliance afterward, but Maliki is hoping that if he has the most seats, it will give him the upper hand in negotiations. Instead of him going around looking for partners that will allow him to pass Allawi who won the most seats, he’s hoping they will come to him as the frontrunner.
Both of these recent events show that more than a month after the election, how little has actually been accomplished in forming a new government so far. Maliki is intent upon holding onto power even though it should be becoming increasingly apparent to him that is a fading dream. As reported before, he has turned on so many parties in the last two years that no one trusts him. He is still hoping that a re-count will give him the most seats, and that will change the dynamic in any talks with other lists. He also apparently believes that if he can hold out long enough the National Alliance will give up their opposition to him. Neither is likely to happen however, so these moves will just be more wasted time until Maliki realizes he has to step aside for Iraq to have a new government.
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Al-Ansary, Khalid, “Iraqi PM says next government has to include Sunnis,” Reuters, 4/16/10
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