One of the longest awaited election results in history appears to be at an exhausting, and not entirely, unexpected end.
Just over eight months since the March 7 national elections, Iraqi political parties finally agreed to a power-sharing deal paving the way for the formation of a new government.
Kamal Al Saidi, member of the National Alliance Party, called the deal "a new era for Iraq," adding "Iraq will be safer despite expected attacks from Al-Qaeda in Iraq."
More than 3,300 Iraqis have died in violence across the country since the March elections and thousands more injured as insurgents have tested the weak government combined with the drawdown of U.S. combat forces.
Under the terms of the deal Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will keep his job, but is expected to make broad concessions to challenger Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya coalition.
Allawi, whose party bested Maliki's in the March elections but could never get muster the seats to put himself in the prime minister's job, could take a brand new position as head of the National Council of Supreme Policy, which is expected to have wide ranging power in security and other matters. It's still not clear, however, what the mandate of this organization will be and from where its power will be derived. It's equally unclear whether Allawi himself will take the job of appoint someone of his choosing.
The mainly ceremonial post of president will remain with Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani while the powerful parliamentary speaker's job will go to a Sunni as will the position of foreign minister. That position is currently held by the Kurd Hoshayar Zebari.
To achieve the deal the government has already had to make its way through several political minefields, most notably on the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Kurds have long wanted a referendum to decide the future of the city and whether it should become part of a greater Kurdistan. The government in Baghdad and the minority Turkmen population in Kirkuk have both heavily resisted any moves by the Kurds to appropriate Kirkuk and its oil wealth. It appears that Mailiki has agreed to proceed with a census and referendum in Kirkuk, but the timing and process remains to be seen.
Formation of Iraq Government Could Still Take Another Month
The deal includes a provision that would allow at least some Sunni members to escape de-Baathification measures begun under the U.S. The most high profile Sunni member Saleh al Mutlaq has been kept from public office and investigated over his ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, but now could take on the plum job as foreign minister.
Though the deal is widely expected, it could still take a month or more before a government is officially in place. Once the deal is announced Maliki will have up to 45 days to name his ministers and form his entire government.
In a sign of how little trust there is in the process, Allawi's Iraqiya coalition issued a statement confirming that it reached a deal, but added "we hope that all partners will uphold their promises. We hope not to have revisit our decision to join this government."
The deal comes as the U.S. continues to draw down the number of troops it has stationed in Iraq. At the same time, al Qaeda has launched a devastating series of attacks in the country in an attempt to reassert their presence.
ABC News' Mazin Al-Mubarak and Ali Al Mashakheel contributed to this report