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Iraq's Allawi says he will join Maliki government

The former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi, whose coalition won the most seats in the country¿s March election, ended weeks of wavering today and said he would join a new government to be unveiled on Monday.

BAGHDAD // The former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi, whose coalition won the most seats in the country's March election, ended weeks of wavering today and said he would join a new government to be unveiled on Monday.

Mr Allawi's decision cleared another potential hurdle in long and contentious negotiations between political blocs to form a new government after the inconclusive election.

Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki is to present his new cabinet to parliament on Monday. Mr Maliki will win a second term if politicians approve his cabinet and government programme as expected.

Senior officials said Mr Maliki would reappoint the oil minister Hussain al Shahristani and the foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari.

The appointment of a new government could reassure foreign investors as Iraq tries to raise output from its rich oilfields and rebuild its shattered infrastructure.

The participation of Mr Allawi and his cross-sectarian Iraqiya coalition could also help ease concern about renewed bloodshed with Iraq emerging from years of war and US troops withdrawing by the end of 2011.

Iraqis have been waiting for a new government since the March 7 election, whose aftermath underscored the fragility of Iraq's nascent democracy and the depth of its ethnic and sectarian divisions.

Mr Allawi had wanted to unseat the premier Mr Maliki after Iraqiya won 91 seats in the new parliament with strong backing from minority Sunnis. But Allawi failed to forge the alliances needed for a majority in parliament.

He had warned that any attempt to marginalise his coalition could reinvigorate a weakened but still lethal insurgency.