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Iraq's Allawi Forms Coalition To Compete For PM Post


http://gdb.rferl.org/8FBBBF24-247B-47B2-8DE0-6AE6B9C76FCE_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/8FBBBF24-247B-47B2-8DE0-6AE6B9C76FCE_mw800_mh600.jpg Iyad Allawi (file photo) 23 February 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced today that he is forming a broad coalition to challenge the dominant Shi'ite political alliance's conservative candidate for the post of prime minister.

Speaking at a news conference, Allawi vowed that the proposed coalition will seek to establish a government "which believes in Iraq and its principles." He said more details will be announced later.

Allawi, who has served as prime minister since the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority transferred sovereignty in June, still faces a challenge from Ibrahim al-Ja'fari (see profile), who heads the Islamist Al-Da'wah Party and is interim vice president.

Al-Ja'fari told RFE/RL today that he is optimistic that the new Iraqi government will succeed under his leadership.

"The responsibility will be heavy, but I'm optimistic that all brothers and sisters are determined to make this process succeed, that they look at things on the scale of Iraq and will overcome everything in the interest of Iraq, whether it's about security, services, or other issues."

He was chosen for the post yesterday by the Shi'ite-clergy backed United Iraqi Alliance, which won more than half the seats in the National Assembly in Iraq's 30 January national elections.

Meanwhile, a series of explosions killed at least three people in Iraq today, including one U.S. soldier.

(with additional agency reports)
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