Members of Shiite alliance to discuss new prime minister

Members of the Shiite alliance who won seats in parliament in the December election gathered Saturday at the home of political boss Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim to discuss the choice for prime minister. The alliance has first crack at the prime minister's job since it won the largest number of seats 128 of 275 in the election, according to results certified Friday by the election commission.

Speculation for the top government job has fallen on Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi and the current prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Each is supported by two major factions in the Shiite alliance. Parliament is supposed to convene within two weeks now that the certification of the results is complete, with choosing a figurehead president as the first order of business.

But an end to speculation over the new prime ministers could speed the process of forming the government, which is due to be completed by mid-May. Under the constitution, the newly elected president designates a prime minister from among the ranks of the political group with the most seats. The prime minister-designate later presents his Cabinet to parliament for majority vote approval, reports the AP.


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