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Iraq Transition

Allawi forms new bloc to vie for Iraqi prime ministry

Move challenges Shiite-led alliance's nomination of al-Jaafari

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- In a sign that political jockeying for the job of Iraqi prime minister isn't over, Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi on Wednesday named a new coalition to challenge Ibrahim al-Jaafari for the post.

At a news conference with other supporters, Allawi indicated his backing is broader than the list he fielded in January's election, but he didn't provide details.

On Tuesday, the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance announced the candidacy of al-Jaafari, leader of the religious Dawa Party. (Al-Jaafari profile)

The United Iraqi Alliance won 140 seats, a slim majority in the 275-member National Assembly, in last month's election, and it must share power because a two-thirds vote is needed to form a government.

Allawi's Iraqi List placed third behind the United Iraqi Alliance and a Kurdish coalition, winning 40 seats.

Referring to Allawi's new alliance, Kassim Dawood, Iraq's national security adviser and a member of the Iraqi List, said, "This coalition represents the democratic coalition which will work ... to create a united Iraq, where all human values ... flourish -- the values of social justice, the values which we inherited from our Islamic heritage and the values which match with experiences of other nations."

Negotiations among various parties that earned seats in the elections are under way. It is not known whether Allawi would be willing to accept other jobs in the new government.

Officials from the Kurdish alliance that placed second in the election said they expect to meet with al-Jaafari and other prime minister candidates to discuss their concerns.

The Kurds want to maintain the right of three of the country's 18 provinces to veto any governmental decision, a feature that gives them some political clout. They also covet the inclusion of oil-rich Kirkuk into the autonomous Kurdish region. They also want a clear definition of the role of religion in society.

One way for the Kurds to exercise their influence would be to come up with another nominee for prime minister. To be successful, the Kurds, who won 75 assembly seats, would need to count on divisions in the United Iraqi Alliance.

Six killed in northern Iraq

Hours after al-Jaafari's nomination Tuesday, insurgents assassinated an official in Diyala province who was a member of the Dawa Party. Unknown gunmen shot dead Khalil Ali Shuker as he finished evening prayers at a mosque in Muqdadiya, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Baghdad. A male bystander also was wounded.

A roadside bomb killed an American soldier Wednesday near the northern city of Tuz, the U.S.-led Combined Press Information Center said. Soldiers have secured the site and are investigating. The number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war stands at 1,484.

A car bomb attack killed two people and wounded 14 others Wednesday in Mosul, the U.S. military said. An American official said the attack occurred in the northern city's Yarmouk Square.

Outside Kirkuk, two people were killed and one wounded Wednesday when their vehicles came under rocket-propelled grenade fire, police said.

In Baquba, a roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol injured three civilians, including an 11-year-old child.

Other developments

  • Police in Baghdad said Wednesday they captured a suspected terrorist leader who was a soldier in Saddam Hussein's regime. Ali Hassan Kadham al-Jabouri was arrested with five others who allegedly were setting up an illegal checkpoint recently, police said. Authorities accuse al-Jabouri of leading terrorist cells, kidnapping and weapons smuggling.
  • American forces found four large weapons caches, including bombs, rockets and mortar rounds, in Mosul on Wednesday, the U.S. military said. U.S. and Iraqi troops also captured 11 suspected insurgents in four separate operations in the Mosul area this week, the military said.
  • Iraq's interim government said it's reopening all border crossings that were closed last week to keep insurgents from infiltrating the country during Ashura. Ashura -- arguably the holiest day on the Shiite calendar -- attracts pilgrims to Iraq from all over the world. Weekend attacks in Baghdad resulted in dozens of deaths.
  • CNN's Arwa Damon, Ingrid Formanek, Guy Henshilwood and Kianne Sadeq contributed to this report.

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