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Shi'ite Bloc Backs Al-Ja'fari For PM

Ibrahim al-Ja'fari (file photo) 15 February 2005 -- Iraq's main Shi'ite alliance, the winner of general elections, has reached an initial agreement to back Ibrahim al-Ja'fari as the country's next prime minister.

Al-Ja'fari is the leader of the Da'wah Party, one of the two leading religious parties in the United Iraqi Alliance.

Interim National Assembly speaker and Al-Da'wah member Jawad al-Maliki told RFE/RL today that the final agreement will be announced in a few days. He said the other leading party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (SCIRI), decided to back al-Ja'fari rather than its own candidate, Finance Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.

"At the end [of the discussions], the matter was between two main candidates: The candidate of Da'wah Party, Doctor Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, and the candidate of SCIRI, Doctor Adel Abdul Mehdi. In an atmosphere marked with a sense of responsibility and of high importance, there was an initial agreement between the two parties on the candidacy of Doctor. Ibrahim al-Ja'fari for the post of prime minister," al-Maliki said.

The United Iraqi Alliance won 48 percent of the vote in last month's elections. While the alliance did not win the 60 percent it hoped for, the vote puts the coalition in a commanding position to take the top job in the next government. A two-thirds majority is needed in the newly elected National Assembly to form a government.


For full coverage of the recent elections in Iraq, see RFE/RL's "Iraq Votes 2005" webpage.