announced Thursday they had narrowed down their choices for the next Iraqi prime minister.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition is negotiating a political alliance with the Iraqi National Alliance that would be four seats short of the majority needed to unilaterally form a new government in the 325-member Council of Representatives.
Iraq is still without a new government since voters March 7 handed the secular Iraqiya slate a narrow victory over State of Law. Iraqiya insists Iraqi law gives it the right to form a new government.
State of Law and Iraqi National Alliance leaders are at odds over candidates for prime minister. Adand al-Siraj, a State of Law leader, said both sides have narrowed their choices to Maliki and Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi, Iraqi satellite channel al-Sumaria reports.
Former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was mentioned in earlier considerations. Jaafari won in an informal poll for prime minister by members of the Sadrist bloc of anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr.
The Iraqi government, meanwhile, announced Thursday it released 14 members of the Sadrist bloc held on criminal charges, al-Sumaria adds. Sadrists denied the release was related to political developments, however.
The new Iraqi parliament is to have its first session Monday.
"This might be old news..."