Iraq’s newly-appointed President, Jalal Talabani (pictured), is apparently using his full allowance of 15 days to formally appoint a new Prime Minister, thus allowing the haggling over the details to continue. And while Nouri al-Maliki remains the ‘agreed’ candidate, we should never under-estimate the Iraqi parliament’s ability to throw us a last-minute surprise.
If al-Maliki is appointed on Thursday as expected, he is then allowed 30 days in which to appoint a cabinet – based on progress thus far, we should not expect to see new name-plates on the doors much before Christmas.
Our information is that incumbent Oil Minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, will be re-appointed to that key position, but that other ministries are being hotly contested.
Also up for debate are the precise roles and powers of the National Council for Strategic Policy, to be headed by Ayad Allawi.
Foreign investors, meanwhile, can take some comfort from the creation of a new court to resolve disputes between foreign investors and Iraqi companies. If this is seen to operate in a fair and impartial manner, it should help to encourage foreign direct investment into the country.
But there is clearly more work for the new parliament to do in that area, especially with regard to the proposed new securities law, as our expert blogger Mark DeWeaver argues in his latest column.