Iraq's main political blocs have agreed on nominees for the country's top three posts, ending an eight-month deadlock over a new government that had raised the specter of renewed sectarian warfare.
Incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led alliance will get the prime minister's post, giving him a second
Here are five facts about Maliki:
* Maliki was born at Hindiya, south of Baghdad, in 1950. He holds a master's degree in Arabic and worked at the Education Ministry before fleeing in 1980 to neighboring Syria and then Iran under sentence of death for his political activism. He returned after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein.
* Maliki was thrust to the forefront of Iraqi politics in April 2006 with the image of a tough, Shi'ite Islamist strong enough to weld rival factions into a national unity government. He was sworn in as prime minister for the first time in May 2006.
* Maliki struggled to control a fractious government forged of fragile alliances. But in the last two years he has emerged stronger after sending the army to fight Shi'ite militia and presiding over a sharp fall in overall violence.
* Seemingly quick to anger, Maliki has turned many former allies into foes. He bristled at criticism in 2007 from U.S. lawmakers and has difficult relations with some U.S. military officials in Iraq. He harbors evident hatred of the Saddam regime which repressed Iraq's Shi'ite majority and assassinated many of his political colleagues. Many Sunnis fear he has little interest in affording them a fair share of power.
* Maliki has pursued a fine line with Shi'ite Iran, a U.S. foe which fought a 1980-88 war with Saddam's Iraq. Some say he has bowed to Iranian demands, citing an occasion when he met President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without a necktie, in deference to Iranian revolutionary fashion. Others said Tehran wanted Maliki replaced because it does not consider him friendly enough.