UN Welcomes Formation of New Unity Government in Iraq
|December 22, 2010||Filled under Uncategorized|
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the formation of a new unity government in Iraq after a nine-month political impasse since the indecisive March 7 parliamentary elections, and hailed the move as a “major step forward” in the country’s “democratic progress.”
Ban congratulated Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on his confirmation as head of the government, and the country’s political leaders for their “concerted efforts to ensure that the new government is inclusive, broadly participatory and has the support of the people of Iraq”.
The U.N. chief also urged Iraq’s political leaders “to continue working in the spirit of national unity to swiftly conclude the government formation process, and address the major challenges that face the country, including national reconciliation, reconstruction and long-term stability.”
Reiterating the continued support of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) to the Iraqi people and the country’s newly-formered government, Ban stressed that the U.N. mission would spare no effort to assist them “in building a prosperous and peaceful Iraq.”
Separately, U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the Iraqi lawmakers’ decision a “major step forward in advancing national unity,” noting that their “decision to form an inclusive partnership government is a clear rejection of the efforts by extremists to spur sectarian division.”
Earlier on Tuesday, a special session of the Iraqi Parliament had approved a list of 29 candidates Maliki wanted to be included in his unity Cabinet. He is expected to announce the remaining members of the 42-member Cabinet after consultations with other major political coalitions.
The development came in line with a power-sharing agreement reached on November 10 between the Iraqi political parties from all sides of the sectarian divide after eight months of political uncertainty, paving the way for formation of a new unity government.
The power-sharing deal retained Maliki as the Prime Minister, while reserving the post of President for the Kurdish Alliance and the speakership to the secular al-Iraqiya coalition led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who will now become the head of the Council for National Strategy.
As per the deal, President-elect Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish politician, had formally invited Maliki on November 25 to form a new unity government, giving him 30 days to choose his Ministers from the political factions divided on sectarian lines. Tuesday’s parliamentary approval for the Cabinet nominees avoided the constitutionally-mandated deadline for government formation.
Though the parliamentary elections were widely seen as a crucial test for Iraq’s national reconciliation process, none of the coalitions managed to secure the minimum number of 163 seats required to form a government.
Final results of the elections showed the al-Iraqiya coalition led by Allawi had won the most number of seats in the Parliament, two more than the 89 seats won by Maliki’s State of Law Alliance. The Iraqi National Alliance came third with 70 seats, while another coalition comprising of the two main blocs from the autonomous Kurdish region won 57 seats.
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