Iraq: New government faces stark challenges

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 22, 2010 02:23

 
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BAGHDAD — Iraq seated a freely elected government Tuesday after nine months of haggling, bringing together the main ethnic and religious groups in a fragile balance that could make it difficult to rebuild a nation devastated by war as American troops prepare for their final withdrawal.

One of the government's first priorities will be to decide whether to ask the Obama administration to keep thousands of US soldiers in Iraq after their scheduled departure in December 2011.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's new government solidifies the grip that Shiites have held on political power since Saddam Hussein's ouster. It leaves open the question of whether the country's disgruntled Sunni minority will play a meaningful role.

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