BAGHDAD -- A leading member of anti-U.S cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's movement has warned that the nomination of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for a second term is causing friction between al-Maliki's coalition and al-Sadr's movement, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.
Zainab Abdel Karim, a member of the Sadrist movement's political bureau, told RFI on May 20 that the Sadrists are opposed to Maliki's nomination because "his track record in terms of fulfilling promises made to us does not inspire confidence."
She claimed that Maliki had recently sent two delegations to meet with al-Sadr in holy city of Qom, Iran, where the radical cleric is studying to elevate his religious rank.
Abdel Karim said the delegation heads offered to release detained Sadrists in return for the cleric's political support. But Sadr rejected the offers.
Abdel Karim noted that in an unofficial referendum held by the Sadrist movement last month, Maliki came in fourth among candidates for prime minister. Former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari won the referendum, garnering nearly one-quarter of the vote.
Khalid al-Asadi, a leading official in Maliki's State of Law coalition, told RFI that discussions are ongoing between the coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance, which Jaafari heads and includes the Sadrist movement as its largest faction.
He says the question of who to nominate for prime minister has not yet been raised.
Asadi said that during talks between the two blocs the Sadrists had not expressed any reservations towards Maliki or any other possible nominee for prime minister.
"God willing, the issue [of who will be the next] prime minister will be settled within two weeks," he said.
Maliki's State of Law coalition finished a close second to former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya movement in the March 10 parliamentary elections. The Iraqi National Alliance finished third.