Saturday, May 20, 2006

Good overview of positive developments in Iraq: The Real Iraq

AP's coverage of today's cabinet appointments.

CNN: Iraq's first permanent government since the fall of Saddam Hussein was approved by parliament and sworn in on Saturday, despite the failure to fill two key ministry posts because of political disputes. "The main problem now is security, and they could not appoint defense and interior [ministers]," said prominent Sunni Muslim politician Saleh al-Mutlag, who walked out of the proceedings. "This session is illegal," al-Mutlag said. "They added seven ministries without getting approval." Al-Mutlag said he and others had asked the government to wait longer to try to fill the critical posts. Prime Minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki said he would temporarily run the Interior Ministry, and he made a temporary appointment to the Defense Ministry -- Salam al-Zobaie, a Sunni politician who also had been designated as a deputy prime minister. There are 37 Cabinet posts in all and parliamentary terms last four years. [...]

BBC News (largely repeating earlier update): Iraq's PM-designate Nouri Maliki says the make-up of the cabinet has been finalised but the posts of interior and defence minister will be filled later. Mr Maliki will present the cabinet for approval by parliament on Saturday. Shias, Sunni Arabs and Kurds have been in dispute over the make-up of the unity government since elections in December, causing a power vacuum. US and Iraqi officials have said the unity government is the country's best chance avoiding a full sectarian war. The Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance won most seats in parliament in Iraq's first full elections, held last December. [...]

Friday, May 19, 2006

AP: The incoming Iraqi prime minister said Friday he had failed to reach a deal with coalition partners on naming defense or interior ministers, but he still would inaugurate his Cabinet on Saturday.

Nouri al-Maliki said after meeting with officials of other political coalitions and parties that a decision had been made on the rest of the Cabinet "except for defense and interior ministries," and he would present it Saturday for approval to the 275-member parliament — known as the council of representatives. "Both will be acting (temporary) ministers until we will choose the best ministers for those posts," he said.

AP update:

On Saturday, legislators plan to swear in a new prime minister and Cabinet, completing a democratic transition that began in December with the election of its parliament. A main goal of the new government will be to restore security in Iraq, where sectarian violence and attacks by insurgents and militias have killed many people and led thousands of Iraqi families to flee their homes. The Bush administration hopes that full-scale democracy can unite Iraq's complex mix of Shiites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds, reduce public support for insurgent groups and militias, and make it possible to begin withdrawing U.S. troops sometime this year. In a speech in Baghdad on Thursday night, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad praised Iraq's outgoing prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and said the inauguration will be a "historic step in Iraq's transition from dictatorship to democracy."