U.S. Envoy: New Iraq Government May Take Months The U.S. ambassador to Iraq said Monday that the formation of a new government in the country could take a few months. But Christopher Hill said unrest in Iraq was unlikely to alter the planned U.S. troop drawdown.
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U.S. Envoy: New Iraq Government May Take Months

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U.S. Envoy: New Iraq Government May Take Months

U.S. Envoy: New Iraq Government May Take Months

U.S. Envoy: New Iraq Government May Take Months

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/125312245/125318780" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill, seen here in November, says Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is understandably upset at the election results, which show his bloc narrowly trailing his main rival. But, Hill says, Maliki will follow the law to challenge some of the results. Sabah Arar/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Sabah Arar/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill, seen here in November, says Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is understandably upset at the election results, which show his bloc narrowly trailing his main rival. But, Hill says, Maliki will follow the law to challenge some of the results.

Sabah Arar/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq said Monday that it could take a few months for the formation of a new government.

"Obviously, we'd all like it to happen yesterday, but it's not going to happen yesterday, it's going to take several weeks," Ambassador Christopher Hill told NPR's Noah Adams. "More likely it's going to take several months."

The comments come as Iraq entered perhaps its most uncertain period since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The results of the March 7 parliamentary elections were announced Friday, giving former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's political bloc 91 seats to 89 seats for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's bloc.

The results, though complete, are preliminary. Final results are expected in mid-April. Hill said there could be changes in the result, including Maliki rather than Allawi having a plurality of votes.

Maliki has denounced the results and pressed for a manual recount.

"Anyone who's lost an election by 0.045 percent probably is feeling a little grouchy that day," Hill said. "And so Mr. Maliki was probably not very happy to see those results."

Hill added: "On the other hand, he has made clear that what's necessary is that everybody needs to follow the law, including himself, but he's going to challenge some of the results, as I think any candidate would."

A rash of bombings rocked Iraq over the weekend, including one that apparently targeted an Allawi ally. Hill, however, said that although the violence was cause for concern, the overall trend has been positive.

"Violence is much less here than it was a year ago," he said. "But certainly what we don't want is a situation where the period of government formation drags on and on and on, or if they tried to form a government where some people felt left out, and that itself could increase tensions."

Hill also said that the unrest was unlikely to alter the U.S. timetable to draw down its troop numbers to 50,000 by Sept. 1.

"Based on how things are going to date, I don't think there is any concern about us meeting our timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces down to 50,000 by the end of August, and eventually down to zero by the end of 2011," he said.