Kurds to back new coalition choice for Iraq's PM

Iraq's new coalition prepares to choose new PM


Iraq's main Kurdish political bloc will accept the candidate for prime minister chosen by the new Shiite coalition of incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a top official said on Thursday.

"We will not veto anyone chosen by the alliances to take up the post of prime minister," said Roz Nawri Chawis, the autonomous Kurdish region's deputy prime minister.

Maliki's State of Law Alliance and the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) led by Shiite religious groups announced on Tuesday that they were forming a new coalition following the March 7 parliamentary elections.

The move was aimed at squeezing out a secular coalition led by ex-premier Iyad Allawi, whose Iraqiya bloc won the election with 91 seats but failed to build a parliamentary majority.

The new Shiite coalition is also four seats short of the 163 needed to form a parliamentary majority but the Kurdish Alliance, comprised of Kurdistan's two long-dominant political blocs, has said it will join it.

"We welcome the unity of our key allies and we expect to open a serious dialogue with them, because Iraq cannot move forward without the participation of its entire people," Chawis said.

He was speaking in the holy Shiite city of Najaf in southern Iraq after a meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani, Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric.

Although Maliki won more votes than any single candidate, he is reviled by the Sadrist bloc of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and by the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, the two main groups within the INA.