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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
23 April 2006

IRAQ: After months of squabbling, government appointments raise hopes for calm

BAGHDAD, 23 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - The appointment of key government leaders after months of wrangling was well-received by many Iraqis, who hope the development will bring an end to ongoing sectarian violence.

“After three months of discord and differences, elected parliamentarians have chosen those who are going to govern our country,” said Muhammad Said, a pharmacist in the capital, Baghdad. “We expect that, from now on, we’ll be strong enough to fight the violence.”

After repeated delays, parliament finally met on Saturday to elect a president, two vice-presidents, a parliamentary speaker and two deputies. The current president, Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, was re-appointed to the top post for a four-year term.

Talabani then invited Sh’iite Arab politician Jawad al-Maliki to be prime minister-designate. The dominant Shi’ite bloc in parliament was forced to replace the outgoing prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who had been unacceptable to Sunni Arabs and Kurds. Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni leader from the Iraqi Accord Front, the mainly Sunni Arab Islamist coalition and the major Sunni bloc in parliament, was named parliamentary speaker. The appointments were in keeping with an accord that requires a representative from each of the three main groups for the top three government posts.

Shi’ite politician Adel Abdul Mehdi and Sunni politician Tariq al-Hashimi were also nominated for the posts of deputy presidents. Shi’ite religious leader Khalid al-Attiyah and Kurdish politician Aref Tayfour, meanwhile, were named deputy speakers.

After the appointments, Baghdadis expressed hope that the formation of a new government would serve to stem ongoing sectarian violence. “Disputes about the new government allowed for the rise of sectarian movements, including the formation of independent militias outside government control,” said Abbas Khudur, a Shi’ite shopkeeper in the Yarmouk district of the capital. “But this new government will be able to control these movements.”

Sunni and Kurdish politicians were also pleased with the nomination of al-Maliki as prime minister-designate. “We’re happy with the nomination of al-Maliki and expect a new beginning in Iraq, without sectarian violence and with the trust of the population,” said Adnan Dulaimi, leader of the Sunni Arab General Council for the People of Iraq, a component of the Iraqi Accord Front.

Al-Maliki was given 30 days to put together a cabinet including representatives of Shi’ite Arab, Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties, each member of which must be approved in parliament by majority vote. Parliamentarians, however, are expected to bicker over who will occupy security-related ministries, especially the interior ministry, which has been accused in the past of resorting to independent militias to help restore security.

"Weapons should only be in the hands of the government,” al-Maliki told reporters at a press conference after the appointments. “Militias should be dissolved and security brought under government control.”

[ENDS]

This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2006



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