Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Iraqi parliament approves new cabinet, after a nine month deadlock

The Iraqi parliament has unanimously approved Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's 43 selected appointees for the country's cabinet, a record breaking nine month after the parliamentary elections.

After months of political wrangling among the country's main factions, the parliament has finally agreed a unity government consisting of representative from the Kurdish, Sunni and Shi'a blocs. The parliament approved three deputy prime ministers, 29 other cabinet ministers and the new government programme. It also approved nine remaining interim ministers, and agreed that control of the three security portfolios should rest with al-Maliki.

Speaking about the delay in nominating the remaining ministers, al-Maliki said “I need more time to choose better, and I will continue to study the (resumes) to be able to choose on the basis of efficiency and professionalism." He also said that one of the reasons for the delay was the apparent lack of women candidates, adding “I find myself obliged... to wait for the political entities to present women candidates."

Former Iraqi prime minister, Iyad Allawi, whose Iraqiya bloc took 91 seats in the March elections but was unable to form a government, expressed approval of the new government on behalf of the party by saying "We wish and we hope for this government to succeed in meeting the people's requirements… we are announcing our full support for the government."

The newly appointed cabinet and lawmakers of the Iraqi 325-member Parliament face the difficult task of working together to rebuild the war-torn country. Speaking about the incomplete cabinet, al-Maliki's advisor, Ali Moussawi, said the selected candidates represented the various factions of political blocs rather than al-Maliki's own personal preference.

Al-Maliki's State of Law Aliance managed to win 89 seats in the March elections, and like Allawi's Iraqiya was unable to form a government, despite prolonged negotiations with various representative of the Shi's, Sunni and Kurdish blocs.

Sources: Guardian, AFP, The New York Times, Reuters

For more news and expert analysis about Iraq, please see Iraq Focus.

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