Iraq's presidential council was sworn in Thursday and named Shiite leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari as the new interim prime minister. Earlier, Iraqi newspapers reported the expected nomination of Jaafari who spent years in exile as Iraq's prime minister.
Al-Jaafari fought Saddam Hussein's regime from Iran and spent more than two decades in exile, mostly in Britain and Iran, helping to lead anti-Saddam opposition forces via the Islamic Da'awa Party, Iraq's first Shiite Islamic political party. He also has close ties to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric. Al-Jaafari's wife is a distant relative of al-Sistani's.
Al-Jaafari told reporters on Thursday: "This day represents a democratic process and a step forward."
Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani was chosen for the largely ceremonial job of president on Wednesday, while Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a Shiite, and current interim President Ghazi al-Yawer, a Sunni Arab, were elected vice presidents.
After he was named to the presidency, Talabani urged Iraqi "insurgents," who are believed to be mostly Sunni Arabs, to start talks.