BAGHDAD, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari unveiled a new Shiite bloc Monday, the Iraqi National Alliance, but the current premier stayed behind.
Word of a rift among Shiite lawmakers emerged during the Aug. 13 General Assembly of the Dawa Party, where leaders expressed support for new thinking ahead of January national elections.
The Iraqi National Alliance will include members of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and supporters of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr. Sunni factions from the western province of Anbar are also expected to join the ranks in the new alliance.
Jaafari, at a speech marking the announcement, said the new coalition would address social services as well as national reconciliation, the Voices of Iraq news agency reports.
"The alliance aims to keep reconciliation in mind to separate authorities, to uphold the independence of the judiciary, to address the manifestations of poverty and to implement the principles of the constitution," he said during a Baghdad news conference.
The Dawa Party of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was left out of the new coalition amid lingering disputes between it and SIIC.
"I wish that our brothers in the Dawa Party would be among us today and, God willing, efforts will continue to include everyone, with Dawa at the top of the list," said Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi.
Dawa affiliates defeated SIIC candidates in the provincial elections earlier this year.
The formation of the NIA comes as Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the influential cleric who led the party, was admitted to a hospital in Tehran for complications from a long bout with lung cancer.