The combination of seats belonging to the Shia Alliance may give them a mandate to form the new government and have the power to determine key positions, including the prime minister. It seems very unlikely, although not impossible, that post will go to Maliki, whose record leading the Shia dominated government has been seen as overly sectarian, leaving him incapable of reaching out to the Sunni and Kurdish communities.
In a climate of escalating sectarian violence in Iraq, Hakim told ABC News this week that the next prime minister “must represent the majority,” which means from within the Shia Alliance. The new leader must also “be acceptable to the other partners, that's how we create the rhythm,” he said.
There are between six and eight candidates for prime minister, sources told ABC News. The favorites among them appear to be the former vice president and finance minister Adel Abdul Mehdi, and Ahmed Chalabi, whose information about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction was crucial to America’s decision to launch the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. The information he provided was ultimately discredited and he has since fallen from favor in the West. One of Maliki’s key advisers is also in the frame, Tariq Najm. All three men are Shia.
Hakim acknowledged that Chalabi was among the names being considered but said “it's not about personalities, it's about being acceptable to the Shia alliance and the others. That's what we're talking about now, to find someone suitable for all.”
Sources within the Shia Alliance have told ABC News the favored candidate for speaker is Saleem al-Jibouri, a senior Sunni lawmaker from Diyala. The preferred candidate for president is Barham Salih, who is the former prime minister of the Kurdish Regional government.