New Iraqi cabinet meets for first time
Iraq's new cabinet held its first meeting on Wednesday, a day after a parliamentary vote approved its line-up. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki "met this morning with his ministers to tell them that his three top priorities are security, public services, especially electricity, and relations with neighbouring countries," Ali Moussawi, an adviser to Maliki, was quoted as saying by AFP.
In separate votes on Tuesday, parliament gave its approval to Maliki, three deputy prime ministers and 31 other cabinet ministers, as well as a government program, and approved interim ministers for the remaining 10 cabinet posts. But the ministries responsible for two of Maliki's three priorities -- security and electricity -- currently have only acting heads.
Maliki has assumed interim control of the ministries of defense, interior and national security, which are responsible on the security situation in the country. Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Shahristani, who as oil minister in the outgoing government took interim charge of the electricity post, is to stay on as an acting minister until a permanent appointment has been made.
Of the 35 cabinet posts finally distributed, Maliki's National Alliance bloc holds 19, the secular Iraqiya nine, the Kurdish Alliance four, and other smaller parties three. The cabinet announced so far is made up of 20 Shiites, 10 Sunnis, four Kurds, and one Christian.