Allawi says will join Iraq govt if given real power

BAGHDAD Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:03pm EST

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said on Friday he will join a new Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki if the premier follows through on promises and makes him a genuine partner.

Allawi's Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc won the greatest number of seats in a March parliamentary election but his participation in the new government, which may be formed next week, has been in question.

"Iraqi political powers must share an equal role in making fundamental political decisions," he said. "Authorities must be equal, and distributed fairly."

But Allawi said the participation in a new government of his cross-sectarian Iraqiya bloc, which won 91 seats with heavy support from Iraq's minority Sunnis, was not a certainty.

"We have the desire to be in the coming government. We want to be partners and not (just) contributors."

Iraq is without a new government more than nine months after an election Iraqis hoped would bring stable governance after years of war and economic decline. Maliki was appointed on November 25 to form the government and was given 30 days to pick his ministers.

Allawi, who has warned that any attempt to exclude his Sunni-backed bloc from the government could lead to renewed violence, signed on to a November 10 power-sharing agreement between Iraq's Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish political factions.

The deal ended an eight-month political impasse following a March election that failed to produce a clear winner.

The agreement put Maliki, a Shi'ite, on track for a second term, returned Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, to the presidency and made Sunni lawmaker Osama al-Nujaifi speaker of parliament.

Under the accord, Allawi was to head a yet-to-be-created national strategic policies council.

But a day after the pact, Allawi and some members of his Iraqiya bloc walked out of parliament, saying the deal was being violated. Allawi later said he would not take part in the government, declaring power-sharing "dead".

Maliki and Allawi met on Tuesday for the first time since they sat side-by-side in parliament more than a month ago.

Allawi said the two agreed on the formation of the strategic policies council Allawi is to lead. In the past, Maliki had said the council would be an advisory body, but Allawi had sought real power.

"He (Maliki) was clear in his words and right to the point. We hope things will go properly to achieve these issues without any obstacles," he said.

"We don't believe the important issue is how many ministries we will get in the coming government, but rather the partnership that we will share in making decisions on Iraq future," he said.

(Writing by Jim Loney; editing by Caroline Drees)

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