Iraqi Shia leader visits Cairo to discuss government formation

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday held talks with the chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), Ammar al-Hakim, in Cairo. The meeting addressed the latest developments in the formation of an Iraqi government.

Politicians in the war-torn country have been struggling to create a government since Iraqis went to the polls more than seven months ago.

Al-Hakim’s visit comes as ISCI is reportedly seeking to align itself with the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

ISCI is one of the most important Shia political parties in Iraq.

Senior member of Iraqiya Jamal al-Battikh said the anticipated move will include power-sharing between both parties, adding that the new coalition will also negotiate with Kurdish blocs. 

In a previous visit to Egypt on 5 October, Allawi said his party would never recognize a government headed by incumbent Prime Minister and head of the State of Law bloc Nouri al-Maliki.

At the start of this month, the Iraqi National Alliance, another prominent Iraqi Shia bloc, nominated al-Maliki for the premiership. But Iraqiya claims the right to form the new government because it garnered the highest number of parliamentary seats–91–in the spring elections. The State of Law won 89 seats. 

Iraqiya is requesting a recanter of al-Maliki's nomination.

Earlier this week, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiar Zebari accused unnamed regional powers of blatant interference in negotations for the formation of the new government.

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