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Last Updated: Monday, 24 April 2006, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Optimism for new Iraqi PM
Iraq's new prime minister designate, Jawad al-Maliki
Papers see tough challenges for Mr Maliki

The appointment of Shia politician Jawad Maliki to form a new Iraqi government has largely been welcomed by newspapers in the region. Several Iraqi papers express relief that the months of political deadlock has finally been broken and call for a government of national unity to be formed swiftly.

But some papers are unimpressed by the "quota system" used to select Mr Maliki, the president and the parliament speaker. And one Saudi paper fears that the sectarian divisions are too wide for any government to resolve.

Commentary by Malallah Faraj in Iraq's Al-Mada

In a decisive step, the political alliances and entities succeeded in clearing the bottleneck in the political process and stop the whirlwind of a long and painful wait that almost turned Iraqis' patience into despair, by agreeing to form a permanent government.

Commentary by Fatih Abd-al-Salam in Iraq's Al-Zaman

After announcing the prime minister designated to form a new government, Iraqis are hopeful that the consultations on ministerial selection will not take long and that all have learnt lessons from the bloodshed over the past four months in particular. No Iraqi wants to relive this bitter experience which proved Iraqi politicians' narrow-mindedness, selfishness and disrespect of the noble blood... This experience will be repeated if deliberations to choose ministers take longer than the time defined under the constitution.

Commentary by Jabir Habib Jabir in Iraq's Al-Sharq al-Awsat

The crisis over the prime minister's nomination has surely had very negative effect on the political scene. Yet, it can provide a positive incentive for a four-year national unity government to be more focused on improving security and public services. Despite the bitterness and residual suspicions the crisis has left among the political parties involved, it has made it clear to all that supreme national interests cannot be decimated into petty partisan, sectarian or cliquish ones.

Editorial in Iraq's Al-Mashriq

Much as we need a strong and just government, so do we need a strong and outspoken opposition in parliament that is bold enough to turn the heat on the government should it go astray. It goes without saying that such an opposition should not have its hands tied by being assigned portfolios in the government it is supposed to monitor. Yet, the strange thing is that all the political factions involved in the political process are fighting desperately for ministerial seats on the bandwagon of the next government and it does not seem to matter much whether these seats are at the front, at the back or on the roof.

Editorial in Iraq's Al-Sabah

The state of crisis was over yesterday... This is an achievement that delights the Iraqi citizen who has expressed discontentment regarding the performance of the political elite... The political elite have achieved a leadership basket on the basis of a sectarian and ethnic quota... The major problem of the quota system is that it divides society into constant majorities and constant minorities, thus obstructing political development and rotation in the state and power.

Commentary by Mustafa Muhammad Garib in Iraq's Al-Tariq

The most serious danger posed to Iraq is the ethnic, racial, sectarian division as it is a tool that may lead to dividing influence over certain areas... In spite of all presidential speeches that reject sectarianism and sectarian and racial conflict, the quotas are marked with sectarianism as the sovereign posts [ministries for foreign affairs, defence, the interior, finance and oil] were confined to three blocs and ignored other blocs.

Commentary by Majid Fiyadi in Iraq's Al-Badil al-Dimoqrati

After a long gestation period, the Iraqi elephant gave birth to a masked wolf, to which they gave a loose name: national unity. This baby is not based on sectarianism as they claim, but it has a Shia head, Sunni hands and Kurdish legs... Sectarianism, this masked wolf, hides its fangs through flowery expressions, but it always needs victims in order to survive, and today its favourite, urgent meal is secularists.

Editorial in Saudi Gazette

Maliki's appointment appears to have broken a deadlock that has blocked the creation of a new Iraqi government following parliamentary elections last December and he certainly appears to be more favoured by the Sunni, Kurdish and secular minorities that make up Iraq's Shia-dominated political landscape. The question that surely needs to be asked, however, is whether the situation in Iraq with its relentless round of sectarian killings has not reached the point of political disintegration... To say it is an unenviable inheritance is an understatement. Three years after the overly-optimistic invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein it is arguably an unmanageable one.

Editorial in Saudi Arabia's Arab News

How will a national unity government, led by Jawad al-Maliki as prime minister, fare in the face of the now critical security situation in Iraq? The undoubted victory of the Iraqi people in the elections last December has been frittered away over the last four months as the MPs voted to represent them have bickered over the composition of a government. Time is now of the essence. Some commentators are saying that it may yet take a further month before the allocation of the ministerial portfolios has been agreed to. We can only hope they are wrong.

Commentary by Semih Idiz in Turkey's Milliyet

Ankara, which is worried that Iraq might have been dragged into a civil war, also wanted a government of national compromise as soon as possible... That is why Jawad al- Maliki's election is a comforting development for Ankara too.

Commentary by Cengiz Candar in Turkey's Bugun

Of course, these developments in Iraq do not guarantee the removal of the violent atmosphere and an end to the bloody settling of the old scores but they do show that the constitutional process is gaining speed and hopes for Iraq to be protected in its current structure are continuing.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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