BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's Kurdish interim vice
president on Wednesday said negotiations to pick the
country's new prime minister were far from over, as
Iraq's new political king-makers sought to secure
top jobs, including the largely ceremonial post of
Haggling over senior positions in the upcoming
government came against the backdrop of more
violence. A car bomb killed two people and wounded
14 in the northern city of Mosul, and a U.S. soldier
was killed in a separate bomb attack north of
Baghdad, officials said.
The dominant Shiite coalition on Tuesday chose
Ibrahim al-Jaafari, one of two interim vice
presidents and leader of a religious party that
fought Saddam Hussein, as its candidate for prime
minister _ making him the overwhelming favorite for
But for al-Jaafari to take the premiership he must
build a coalition to gain agreement from Kurds and
others on the presidency and candidates for Cabinet
posts before seeking the support of a majority of
the National Assembly elected Jan. 30.
Incumbent premier Ayad Allawi has shown no sign of
giving up his own bid for the powerful post.
Al-Jaafari is "a man I can work with, but to discuss
who will be the prime minister of Iraq, this still
needs more time," Kurdish interim vice president
Rowsch Nouri Shaways told reporters. "We aim to get
high rank in the government institutions. We aim to
get one of the top positions and we aim to
participate in the Council of Ministers, suitable
with our percentage in the elections."
Kurdish parties, which won 75 seats in the 275-seat
national assembly, want Jalal Talabani, a secular
Sunni Kurd and leader of the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan, to be Iraq's next president.
The Shiite Muslim clergy-backed United Iraqi
Alliance won 140 seats, while Allawi's secular
Shiite Iraqi List party won 40 seats. Nine other
parties divided the remaining 20 seats.
According to the interim constitution adopted last
year under the U.S. occupation, parliament must
elect a president and two vice presidents by a
two-thirds majority, or 182 seats. The three must
then unanimously choose a prime minister subject to
There is no timetable for the assembly to convene,
and al-Jaafari and his alliance must agree with
other elected parties on who will fill the three
posts and the Cabinet. Even then, the prime minister
has a month to name his Cabinet before the assembly
Wednesday's car bomb exploded in western Mosul, said
Essam Youssef of the city's Jamhouri hospital, where
some of the casualties were brought. It was not
immediately clear what the target of the bomb was.
Witnesses said no U.S. or Iraqi forces in the area
where the explosion took place.
In a statement, the U.S. military said two people
were killed and 14 wounded in the attack.
Also in Mosul, U.S. soldiers shot dead a civilian in
a pickup truck who approached their convoy too
closely as he was trying to pass it, policeman Ahmed
Rashid said. Weary of car bombs, most U.S. military
vehicles carry signs warning drivers to keep away.
Elsewhere, a soldier from the U.S. Task Force
Liberty was killed Wednesday when assailants set off
the bomb near Tuz, 105 miles north of Baghdad, the
military said in a statement.
Al-Jaafari's selection on Tuesday came after former
Washington ally Ahmad Chalabi dropped out of the
race following three days of round-the-clock
bargaining. Al-Jaafari has been seen as having close
ties to Iran's ruling clergy, though he denies any
links to a government that President Bush has said
is part of an "axis of evil."
For al-Jaafari, 58, to succeed, he'll have to meet
conflicting demands from Kurds, Sunni Arabs and even
Islamic hard-liners within his United Iraqi Alliance
Iraq's secular Kurds and many Sunnis worry that al-Jaafari
will try to impose his Dawa Party's brand of
conservative Islam on the country, particularly
because the assembly will be charged with writing a
Al-Jaafari told the AP last week that Islam should
be the official religion of Iraq "and one of the
main sources for legislation, along with other
sources that do not harm Muslim sensibilities."
He skirted his party's official position, which
explicitly urges the "Islamization" of Iraqi society
and the state, including the implementation of
Shariah, or Islamic law.
"Theory is different from practice," al-Jaafari