Al-Maliki vows to form Cabinet by December

BAGHDAD — Newly reappointed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pledged Saturday to form a Cabinet by mid-December, a move that would end months of government lethargy following inconclusive elections in March, and declared that Iraq would not need U.S. troops after their December 2011 withdrawal deadline.

"If we can't form the government within 30 days, the country will slide in directions only God knows about," he said during his first news conference since being formally nominated for the top government post Thursday.

Al-Maliki has 30 days from the day of his nomination to assign ministries and present a Cabinet slate to parliament for endorsement. If he does not meet this deadline, he risks losing his job.

"The Iraqi people have waited a long time, and I think if we delay more than this, they will lose their patience," he said. "We have to win the trust of the people on all issues: fighting corruption, fighting terrorism, providing essential services and protecting the state."

The Shiite incumbent also said that failure to form an inclusive administration could prove disastrous for Iraq, but he added, "If anyone decides not to join, we are ready to form it without them."