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Sunnis, Shi'a Agree On Al-Maliki For Prime Minister

Members of the new parliament are sworn in during the first session of the Iraqi National Assembly in Baghdad three months after parliamentary elections, March 16 (epa) April 21, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The predominantly Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance says it will nominate Jawad al-Maliki for prime minister of Iraq, Radio Free Iraq reports.

The group confirmed tonight its choice of al-Maliki. The alliance says it will present his name and of other candidates to a session of parliament tomorrow in order to form a new government.

Iraqi's largest Sunni Arab coalition says it welcomes the choice.

Al-Maliki is an ally of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, whose nomination had sparked opposition from Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders. Al-Ja'fari withdrew under pressure yesterday.

Sa'di Ahmad Pirah, a leading member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan spoke today to Radio Free Iraq about the political situation.

"The announcement of Dr. [Ibrahim] al-Ja'fari that he would withdraw from his nomination for the position of prime minister is a positive step," Pirah said. "By this step he has helped Iraq and the democratic process in Iraq."

With the deal on al-Maliki, Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish parties also have said to agree on nominees to fill the other top posts.

Under the proposed deal, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, would remain as president for a second term. Sunni Arab Tariq al-Hashimi and Shi'ite Adil Abd al-Mahdi would hold the two vice-president spots. Mahmud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni, would become parliament speaker with two deputies: Khalid Attiya, a Shi'ite, and Arif Tayfour, a Kurd.

(with additional agency material)

RFE/RL Iraq Report

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