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Maliki lobbies for State of Law allies

BAGHDAD, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki looks to build new alliances to join his State of Law coalition as the Shiite political race for January elections unfolds.

Maliki announced Oct. 1 his State of Law coalition would unite 40 parties to compete in the January parliamentary elections.

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Maliki competes against the grand Shiite unity slate, the Iraqi National Alliance, in a bid to secure the next premiership. Maliki has already won the support of INA opponents, including members of former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's new Reform Party in the important southern province of Qadisiyah.

Yaseen al-Saylawi, a Reform Party leader, said the State of Law coalition is poised to sweep the parliamentary elections as it did provincial elections in January of this year.

"Eventually it will defeat all the other sectarian blocs, not only the INA," he told the Iraqi analytical Web site Niqash.

The Niqash report says the Jaafari defection weakens the INA alliance, which was formed by members of the influential Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.

Maliki also aims to court Sunni elders in the Anbar Awakening Council, though its leaders are said to be negotiating "certain fundamental points" prior to an official announcement.

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The news comes as the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission announced it finalized preliminary provisions for the January ballot. Lawmakers, however, have yet to pass an election law to determine if the vote is a closed- or open-slated system.

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