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Key Iraqi Bloc Signals Readiness To Compromise In Coalition Talks

Iyad Allawi's bloc says it no longer insists on the post of prime minister.
BAGHDAD -- Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Al-Iraqiyah bloc, which won the most seats in the March parliamentary elections, says it is prepared to compromise for the sake of ending the deadlock and forming a new government, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Leading Al-Iraqiyah member Jamal al-Battikh told RFE/RL on October 26 that his bloc no longer insisted on the post of prime minister and will settle for president.

He said Al-Iraqiyah had also dropped its objections to incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki serving a second term. He recalled that Allawi "has made it clear he is willing to bend, so long as such a gesture is in the interests of the Iraqi people."

Battikh added that "we do not want another seven months of stalemate, with the various factions sticking to their intransigent positions."

Iraqi political parties have failed to agree on the composition of a new government since parliamentary elections on March 7 in which three parties had strong showings.

But Muhsin al-Sadun, a senior member of the Kurdish bloc, said on October 26 that the Kurds' demand to retain the presidential post is unchanged, and incumbent Jalal Talabani remains their sole candidate.

But he added that the Kurdish bloc cannot prevent someone from running against Talabani when the new parliament convenes to vote for a president.

Khalid al-Asadi, a senior official in the National Alliance comprising the two main Shi'ite blocs -- Maliki's State of Law and Islamic cleric Ammar al-Hakim's Iraqi National Alliance -- said that the alliance was still keen to include Al-Iraqiyah in any government it formed.

But he said that "if they choose to be in the opposition, the National Alliance will press ahead without them. Nevertheless, the new government will be representative of all Iraqi communities."

Asadi predicted that "the political deadlock will end next week at the latest, as the parliament is obliged to meet to elect a new speaker within two weeks."

Iraq's Supreme Court on October 24 ordered the country's parliament back to work, ruling that the deadlock that has dragged on for more than seven months is unconstitutional.

Many Iraqis hope the court ruling will serve as a catalyst to expedite negotiations between the various factions.