The party of Muqtada al-Sadr in the Iraqi parliament, with 39 seats, intends to hold a referendum on which prime ministerial candidate to support on this Friday and Saturday, according to al-Hayat writing in Arabic. Sadrist party offices and other party-affiliated buildings will be used for the polling stations. Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission refused to oversee the referendum, saying that their charge from the constitution is to simply ensure that parliamentary elections are upright. Spokesman Qusay Abdul Wahhab said that anyone would be allowed to vote in the referendum, not just known members of the Sadr Movement. Voters will be allowed to vote for one of five prominent candidates for prime minister: Iyad Allawi, Nuri al-Maliki, Jaafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, Adil Abdul Mahdi, and Ibrahim Jaafari. Allawi is an ex-Baathist secular Arab nationalist of Shiite heritage. Nuri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads up the State of Law coalition. Jaafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr ran on the State of Law slate (which has the Da’wa or Islamic Mission Party at its core), but as the son of the “First Martyr,” Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, he has a natural charisma should the State of Law decide to dump incumbent al-Maliki so as to stay in power. Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, a major Iraqi cleric, was killed at Saddam’s hands in 1980. The list also includes Adil Abdul Mahdi, currently one of 2 vice presidents, who represents the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. Finally, Ibrahim Jaafari, the first post-Saddam prime minister, who broke off from al-Maliki’s Islamic Mission Party, is a possibility for voters.
Al-Hayat also reports that the Iraqiya list of Iyad Allawi is miffed that it was not invited to Iran this past weekend. He offered to go to Iran to work for a coalition, he said. Allawi expressed a willingness to go to Tehran if that is where the government is being formed. Both al-Maliki and Allawi are now showing flexibility and the willingness for the first time to form a government of national unity.
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