Friday, April 08, 2005

Iraq is a step closer to its first democratically elected government in more than 50 years, after Ibrahim Jaafari was named as the country's prime minister. Mr Jaafari is a softly spoken doctor who fled into exile under Saddam Hussein and who leads Iraq's oldest Islamic party. He acknowledged that ruling Iraq would be a huge responsibility.

AP update:


Saddam's Old Foes Become New Iraqi Leaders. Cementing Iraq's first democratic government in 50 years, one of Saddam Hussein's most implacable enemies took his oath as president Thursday and quickly named another longtime foe of the ousted dictator to the powerful post of prime minister. The new government's main task will be to draft a permanent constitution and lay the groundwork for elections in December, although some worry that the two months of political wrangling taken up in forming the leadership hasn't left enough time. The swearing-in ceremony came just two days short of the second anniversary of Baghdad's fall to U.S.-led forces and underlined the growing power and cooperation of the Shiite Arab majority and Kurdish minority - groups that were long oppressed by Saddam's regime. There were stumbles, though. [...]

New Iraqi PM Long Opposed Saddam's Reign. Ibrahim al-Jaafari spent more than two decades as an exile trying to topple Saddam Hussein's government - with the close support of Iran and an Islamic militant group linked to terrorism. Now, as Iraq's new interim prime minister, he has asserted he is a moderate, even as some have questioned his ties to Iran and his work for Iraq's first Shiite Islamic political party - the Islamic Dawa Party - of which he is spokesman. Although al-Jaafari served in Dawa leadership positions, he has distanced himself from the group's attacks. But his history with the group - he first joined in 1968 - still raises eyebrows.

BBC News: Talabani election pleases press. Jalal Talabani's election as Iraq's new president inspires cautious optimism in the comment pages of Thursday's papers in Baghdad and elsewhere in the region. Many see the choice of Mr Talabani as an opportunity for Iraqis to cast long-standing ethnic differences aside. Turkish papers are also generally buoyed by the news, predicting that he could dampen Kurdish hopes of their own independent state.