Iraq Approves New Government

Nouri al-Maliki, left, and Ayad Allawi had previously disagreed on who should form the new government. The vote on Tuesday ended nine months of political deadlock after an inconclusive national election in March. (Reuters)

Iraq Approves New Government

Parliament unanimously approves Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his new government, ending nine months of deadlock.

Iraqi lawmakers have unanimously approved a new government to be headed by Nouri al-Maliki, the incumbent prime minister.

The vote on Tuesday ended nine months of political deadlock after an inconclusive national election in March.

Lawmakers approved 29 ministers, including al-Maliki, to form the new
government, which includes members of all of Iraq's major political and
sectarian factions, including Shias, Sunnis and Kurds.

detailed to lawmakers on Tuesday the programme of his new parliament
and vowed to make Iraq a truly democratic state that respects human
rights and the rights of various ethnic and sectarian groups.

he criticised the various political blocs for failing to nominate
female candidates for ministerial positions. He also warned that there
will still be obstacles ahead.

"Given the circumstances it has been created under, this government
does not satisfy the people nor the needs of our country," al-Maliki

"But the effort and the will to make it work in the best possible way it can, is there."

Controversial appointments

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Baghdad, said al-Maliki will
be the acting minister of defence, interior and national security
"until appropriate candidates are found".

"This is likely to be a controversial move because the prime
minister's critics have been accusing him of what they see as attempts
to consolidate his power and have complete control over the security
file," our correspondent said.

"Still, there's expected to be some relief in certain quarters among
the Iraqi population. People have waited nine months to finally see a
government in place to bring them basic services, welfare payments and
jobs that have yet to be allocated because of the delay in government

"But concerns linger over the ability of this government to take any
effective decisions given the sectarian nature along which the various
positions were distributed."

Under the new government, outgoing oil minister Hussein Shahristani
is now deputy prime minister for energy, while deputy prime
minister Rafi al-Issawi becomes finance minister and foreign minister
Hoshyar Zebari remains in place.

The most controversial appointment is Saleh al-Mutlaq to the role of
deputy prime minister. Up until two days ago, he was banned from
politics altogether for being a former Baathist.

Iraqiya bloc

prime minister Iyad Allawi, who failed to gain enough support for a
parliamentary majority after his cross-sectarian Iraqiya bloc won the
most seats in the poll, is still without a proper post.

has been promised the top position of a strategy and security council -
but until it is created, those matters will be handled by al-Maliki.

Despite not having a post yet, Allawi vowed to work with the government and give it his full support.

"We wish the new government all success in meeting the needs of the Iraqi people," he said.

"We, in the Iraqiya list, announce our full support to this
government. We will co-operate with the best intentions as long as our
political partners treat us with the same spirit."

Until this
month, the Iraqiya alliance bitterly fought to prevent al-Maliki from
keeping his job, insisting Allawi should have the first shot at forming a

Fair representation

However, al-Maliki has yet to decide on permanent choices for some
positions. The remainder of the 42-seat cabinet is made up of acting
ministers who will replaced at a later date because of ongoing disputes
between coalition partners.

Some legislators said they were irritated that al-Maliki did not present a cabinet with names of candidates for all 42 posts.

"An agreement should be reached on all security posts," Mahmoud
Othman, an independent Kurdish politician, said. "Why should they remain
open and with the prime minister for an unspecified period of time?"

Al-Maliki, who has served as prime minister since May 2006, said the
delays would ensure all parties are fairly represented in the

"The formation of national unity government in Iraq is a difficult
and hard task because we need to find place in the government for all
those who participated and won in the elections," he said, speaking just
hours after legislators gloomily predicted further delays.

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