Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Iraq's new parliament has concluded its first meeting since the January election without reaching an agreement on a government line-up or electing a three-member presidential council and a speaker. The parliament ended its session after 90 minutes on Wednesday, without giving a date for when it would reconvene as political parties are locked in hard negotiations over a coalition deal to form a government. The Shia Islamic alliance that won 140 seats and the Kurdish coalition that came second with 75 seats are deadlocked over a government in negotiations that have dragged on for weeks. But rival blocs say they expect to reach an agreement within the next few days. [...] (al Jazeera)

AP updates:

Iraq's first freely elected parliament in half a century began its opening session Wednesday after a series of explosions targeted the gathering.

A short Summary box, and a less abbreviated What's Next for Iraq's Government.

International Herald Tribune: An enthusiasm for remaking Iraq. When Iraq's new Parliament met Wednesday for the first time, novice legislators like Hamdiya Najaf were making a political debut amid uncertainty and acrimony that have muted the heady joy of their January election. More than six weeks after millions of Iraqis risked their lives to vote, there was still no new government; the parties with the most seats, representing Shiite Arabs and Sunni Kurds, were still haggling over key posts and policies. The interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, the U.S.-backed steward of the appointed government that has ruled since last June, has been so thoroughly shut out of the talks that members of his Iraqi Alliance, the third-largest vote-getter, said they might refuse ministry posts and become an opposition party. [...]