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Iraq's PM Hopes to Have New Government by Mid-December

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (file photo)
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (file photo)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says he hopes to have a new government in place by mid-December.

Mr. Maliki commented Saturday, two days after President Jalal Talabani officially asked him to form the government, and complete the challenge of choosing a Cabinet within 30 days. At a Baghdad news conference, Mr. Maliki said he is uncertain what would happen if the cabinet is not formed within the time limit.

Earlier this month, Iraq's main political leaders reached a power-sharing deal that ended an eight-month political stalemate that resulted from inconclusive March elections.

Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya coalition won the most of the seats but was unable to gain enough support from other parties to create a majority coalition. Prime Minister Maliki's coalition, which came in second, gained momentum and support after it partnered with another bloc led by anti-American Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Earlier, former Prime Minister Allawi indicated his coalition might not fully participate in the new government. Mr. Maliki said Saturday that he hoped Iraqiya would take part, but added that government formation would continue even if members of the bloc dropped out.

Under the power-sharing deal, Mr. Allawi will head a newly created committee that will oversee national security.

Separately, Iraqi officials announced the arrests of 12 suspected militants Saturday, who allegedly had a role in last month's deadly attack on a Christian church.

Authorities say 52 people were killed after gunmen burst into the Baghdad church and took more than 100 people hostage. An al-Qaida group - the Islamic State of Iraq - has claimed responsibility.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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