Iraq Forms a Cabinet
Almost three months after the election, Iraq finally has a government in place.
The interim National Assembly approved by show of hands Thursday a partial Cabinet, including 27 ministers and five acting ministers, ushering in Iraq’s first elected government since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The Cabinet was approved by 180 lawmakers out of the 185 present in the 275-member parliament, Speaker Hajim al-Hassani announced to applause.
Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari submitted a broad-based Cabinet, including members of Iraq’s main Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish factions. But disputes remained over two deputy prime minister slots and the defense, oil, electricity, industry and human rights ministries. Al-Jaafari himself, a Shiite, will be acting defense minister, a position that was supposed to go to a Sunni Arab. Ahmad Chalabi, a former Pentagon favorite from al-Jaafari’s Shiite-dominated alliance, will be one of four deputy prime ministers and acting oil minister. Kurdish official and former Vice President Rowsch Nouri Shaways will be another deputy and acting electricity minister.
Al-Jaafari has struggled to reconcile the competing demands of Iraq’s myriad factions since the nation’s Jan. 30 elections.
Oddly, the AP and NPR radio are acting as if this is something other than Iraq’s first elected government, ever. That Saddam Hussein held sham “elections” wherein he won 99% of the vote notwithstanding, this is a historic event.