Iraqi Parliament Approves New Government
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, host:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
In Iraq, some nine months after parliamentary elections, lawmakers have finally begun to approve a new government. At the top will be incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Below him, a cabinet stocked with carefully chosen representatives from the country's main ethnic and religious groups.
As NPR's Kelly McEvers reports, power struggles between those groups will no doubt continue, but on the political sidelines.
(Soundbite of applause)
KELLY MCEVERS: Nouri al-Maliki, a 60-year-old Shiite, who leads a party that long stood in opposition to Saddam Hussein, received unanimous support for his cabinet today. Well, for most of his cabinet. Maliki named 30 of 42 posts. He says he's still searching for the right people to hold the remaining jobs. Among the posts that were named, Maliki's own party will continue to oversee the oil sector. His political rivals in a leading Sunni party will take the Ministry of Finance and a leading Kurdish party will keep its post at the foreign ministry.
Mr. NOURI AL-MALIKI (Prime Minister, Iraq): (speaking foreign language)
MCEVERS: I haven't pleased everyone, Maliki said in parliament today, but this is the way a coalition government works. Maliki has yet to name the ministers of defense and interior, arguably the most important jobs in the country where hundreds of people still die in violent attacks every month. And so far, none of the ministers are women, unlike the previous government, when four posts were held by women.
Kurdish MP Jalal Talabani, roused her colleagues in protest today.
Ms. JALAL TALABANI (Member of Parliament, Iraq): (speaking foreign language)
MCEVERS: Joining Maliki's government will be his main rival, Ayad Allawi, who leads the mostly Sunni party. That party actually took the most votes in the March parliamentary elections, but failed to gain enough coalition partners in parliament to form a government.
Allawi says he'll head a new strategic policy board, a plan that was pushed by the Obama administration. But Iraq analysts say that board may not have much influence, that Maliki will do all he can to maintain his hold on power. Either way, Maliki says the remaining cabinet posts will be named in the coming days.
Kelly McEvers, NPR News, Baghdad.
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