[JURIST] Iraq President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile] formally designated hardline Shiite politician Jawad al-Maliki [Wikipedia backgrounder] to form a new government Saturday, giving him 30 days to present his Cabinet to Parliament for approval. Shiites nominated al-Maliki on Friday after outgoing Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari [BBC profile] gave up his bid for another term. The move ends months of political deadlock between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Al-Maliki has a reputation as an avid defender of the Shiite viewpoint and his appointment incites speculation over whether he will be able to negotiate a non-sectarian government. Al-Maliki returned from exile in Syria after Saddam Husseins regime fell, and has since been active in purging former Baath Party [Aljazeera backgrounder] officials from the new Iraqi military and government, acting as deputy leader of Iraq's controversial Debaathification Commission [official website].
Al-Maliki was the outspoken senior negotiator for Iraqi Shiites in lengthy deliberations last year over the new Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive; JURIST document] approved in last year's October referendum [JURIST report], resisting US efforts to put more Sunnis on the drafting committee as well as Sunni efforts to restrict provisions giving Shiites and Kurds the power to form semiautonomous mini-states in the north and south of the country. AP has more.