4/28/2005 1:15:00 PM GMT
After three months of political deadlock, Iraq’s first government after the toppling of the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was formed on Thursday.
Ending power vacuum the country suffered since January elections, the 275-seat parliament approved on Thursday the cabinet list submitted yesterday by the Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
The Cabinet was approved by 180 lawmakers out of the 185 present in the 275-member parliament, Parliament speaker Hajim al-Hassani said.
The formation of the new Iraqi government coincides with 68th birthday of the country’s toppled leader Saddam Hussein.
In an attempt to accommodate almost all Iraq's ethnic and sectarian groups amid growing tension, the cabinet, which consists of 31 ministers and four deputy prime ministers, includes members of Iraq's main Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish factions.
But according to Iraqi officials, most of the posts went to the Shiites, who represent the majority of the country’s population.
Shiites make up 60 percent of Iraq's 26 million people. The Kurds make up 20 percent, and the Sunni Arabs, represent only 15 to 20 percent of the country’s population.
Also the Kurds and Sunni Arabs were strongly represented. It is noteworthy that seven of the ministries went to women.
However, the new Iraqi PM failed to name permanent ministers to five ministries - oil, defense, electricity, industry and human rights.
Al Jaafari, a Shiite, will be acting defense minister, a position that was supposed to go to a Sunni Arab.
Ahmad Chalabi, a former Pentagon ally, will be one of four deputy prime ministers and acting oil minister.
Rowsch Nouri Shaways, a Kurdish official and former Vice President will be another deputy and acting electricity minister.
Al Jaafari’s initial choices of a Sunni deputy prime minister and defense minister were strongly rejected by the Shiite leaders, who fear they might have ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.
Al Jaafari also has been struggling with his United Iraqi Alliance, the largest bloc in parliament, over the oil and electricity portfolios.
The newly appointed Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and his two vice presidents signed off on the list before Thursday's historic vote.
Outgoing Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is expected to hand over power to the new Prime Minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari within days, Al Jaafari told reporters Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, Al Jaafari said that "the Iraqis will find that this government has religious, ethnic, political and geographic variety, in addition to the participation of women".
"Now that the process has started, we will spare no effort to bring back a smile to children's faces."
Allawi’s party out
Allawi's party was excluded from the new Cabinet.
Allawi has long been resented by many Shiite leaders, who accuse his outgoing administration of including members of the Baathist party in the government and security forces.
Meanwhile, violence erupted in different Iraqi towns on Thursday.
Rebels fired six mortar rounds at a U.S. military base Musayyib, 40 miles south of the Iraqi capital, but hit a nearby bus station instead, killing four Iraqis and wounding 21 other, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.
A medical team rushed into the bus station to sve the wounded. Also the Iraqi forces brought medical supplies, according to a U.S. military statement.
Also Thursday, another a car bomb exploded near an Iraqi army checkpoint, outside Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, wounding four Iraqi soldiers, three U.S. soldiers and seven Iraqi civilians, the U.S. military said.
In Baghdad, gunmen shot dead Lt. Col. Alaa Khalil Ibrahim, who worked in the visa section of the Interior Ministry, while he was on his way to work, police said.