New Iraqi PM vows to improve security
Iraq's parliament on Saturday approved the line-up of a government of national unity proposed by Prime Minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki.
Maliki read out his program to the 275-seat assembly after its approval of his cabinet.
According to Reuters, the government is a broad coalition of majority Shi'ites, minority Sunnis and Kurds with a clear majority in the legislature. Earlier, some members of the largest Sunni political bloc in parliament staged a walkout after Maliki read out his proposed cabinet. Al-Maliki, however, was unable to make a final decision about the top three security posts: defense minister, who oversees the Iraqi army; interior minister, who is responsible for police; and minister for national security. Thus, al-Maliki said he would be acting interior minister for now, and he made Salam Zikam al-Zubaie, a Sunni, the temporary defense minister. Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, a Kurd, was made acting minister for national security.
The Cabinet includes two women: human rights minister Wijdan Mikaeil, the only Christian chosen, and women's affairs minister Fatin Abdel-Rahman. The top ministers include Hussain al-Shahristani, a Shiite who will oversee oil; Bayan Jabr, a Shiite in charge of the Finance Ministry; Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd who is foreign minister; and Abed Falah al-Sudani, a Shiite heading the trade ministry
In his first address, al-Maliki told parliament he would make restoring stability and security the top priority of his new cabinet. According to the AP, he said he would "work fast" to improve and coordinate Iraqi security forces so they can reduce attacks by armed groups.
Additionally, Al-Maliki said he would set "an objective timetable to transfer the full security mission to Iraqi forces, ending the mission of the multinational forces."