- The Washington Times - Friday, July 9, 2010

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said Friday that the formation of an Iraqi government was near, four months after an inconclusive election threw the fledgling democracy into its latest political stalemate.

“We hope to form the government in August,” said Mr. Allawi, whose secular and Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc narrowly won the most seats in the March 7 vote. “The negotiations between the political groups entered their last phase, and we wish to close this file as soon as possible.”

Mr. Allawi made the comments in Beirut after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

While several questions remain unresolved — among them, who will be the next prime minister — any governing coalition is expected to include Mr. Allawi’s bloc; incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law alliance; the Iranian-aligned Iraqi National Alliance (INA); and the Kurdish alliance. Combined, the four parties won 293 out of the 325 seats in the Iraqi parliament.

After the election, Mr. al-Maliki’s group merged with the third-place INA, giving the super-bloc 159 seats — four shy of a majority. Since then, Mr. al-Maliki and Mr. Allawi have argued over who has the right to lead the next government.  

Last weekend, Vice President Joe Biden urged Iraq’s leaders to end the impasse on a visit to Baghdad. 

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