Iraq's main Shi'ite alliance has selected interim Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari as its candidate for prime minister.
The choice came after three days of marathon negotiations, and after another United Iraqi Alliance member, Ahmed Chalabi, withdrew his candidacy.
The alliance won 48 percent of the vote in last month's elections, and gained 140 seats in the 275-member National Assembly. However, rules require a two-thirds majority to form a government, and the alliance will need the votes of 182 lawmakers for its candidate to take office.
Mr. al-Jaafari, a physician and father of five, still faces a challenge from incumbent Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. However, Mr. Allawi's party slate won only 14 percent of the January 30th vote.
In other developments, a car bomb explosion near an Iraqi troop convoy in Baghdad killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded more than 20 others.