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Coalition to Begin Drawing Up Iraq's Next Government

A coalition of the three parliamentary blocs -- led by Muqtada al-Sadr's Sairoon bloc -- will be responsible for drawing up Iraq's next government, according to a Friday statement released by the coalition.

Along with Sairoon (which won 54 parliamentary seats in Iraq's May 12 poll), the coalition includes Iyad Allawi's National Coalition (22 seats) and Ammar al-Hakim's National Wisdom Current (19 seats).

According to the statement, the coalition is committed to preserving Iraq's national unity; implementing economic reforms; encouraging private-sector activity; and promoting investment and local development.

The statement also stresses the need to avoid the "politicization of the government, administrative and military sectors".

It further calls for an independent judiciary; "balanced" foreign relations -- both regional and international -- based on principles of non-interference in other country's affairs; and the swift repatriation of Iraq's large displaced population.

One source within the coalition, who spoke to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity, said: "Legally, the coalition cannot take any steps [to form a new government] until Iraq's Federal Court approves the results of the May 12 parliamentary election."

Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council on Thursday announced that newly-appointed electoral officials had begun the process of recounting votes following weeks of dispute over poll results and widespread allegations of electoral fraud.

On Wednesday, parliament voted in favor of conducting a manual recount of the poll results. Shortly afterward, a nine-judge panel was appointed to assume the responsibilities of Iraq's official electoral commission.

Lawmakers first began calling for a vote recount late last month. Electoral commission officials had responded by warning of "potential civil unrest" if poll results were overturned.

Earlier this week, the government slapped a travel ban on top electoral commission officials pending further investigation into fraud allegations.

Al-Sadr, for his part, says parliament lacks the authority to overturn final election results.

Reporting by Aref Youssef and Ali Jawad:Writing by Ali H. M.Abo Rezeg.

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