[JURIST] Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani [BBC profiles] announced the formation of a new coalition government Thursday, formally signing an agreement with Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council leader Adil Abdul-Mahdi [CBS profile] and Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iraq leader Massoud Barzani [Wikipedia profile]. The agreement between the Shi'a and Kurdish parties guarantees that the coalition government will maintain a majority in the 275-seat Iraqi Council of Representatives [Wikipedia backgrounder]. It may also allow al-Maliki's government to push through constitutional amendments or legislation seen as essential to the stabilization of Iraq. The leaders urged the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front [BBC backgrounder] to return to the government, saying that the door remained open despite their refusal to join the coalition.
Last week, five Iraqi Cabinet ministers belonging to the secular and nonsectarian Iraqi National List announced a boycott of government meetings [JURIST report], effectively ending Sunni representation in al-Maliki's government. In early August, the Iraqi Accordance Front left the government [JURIST report] after al-Maliki refused its demands that he pardon uncharged security detainees and let all government-represented groups participate in security matters. Al-Maliki's government has been criticized for sectarian favoritism and its unwillingness to confront Shi'a militias loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. AP has more.