Maliki to head new Iraqi government

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Nouri Maliki will head the new Iraqi government

Iraqi politicians have unanimously approved a new government to be headed by incumbent Shiite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

The long-awaited vote on the new government ends nine months of political deadlock after an inconclusive parliament election in March.

Politicians approved a total of 29 ministers including Mr Maliki to form the new government.

The remainder of the 42-member Cabinet is made up of acting ministers for now.

“The most difficult task in the world is forming a national unity government in a country where there is a diversity of ethnic, sectarian and political backgrounds,” Mr Maliki said speaking before the vote.

The new Cabinet members were immediately sworn in following the nationally televised vote.

Iraqis voted on March 7 but no one bloc won a majority in the 325-member parliament, leading to nine months of political jockeying to form the new government.

Although Mr Maliki’s coalition came in a close second to a Sunni-backed coalition led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi, it was Mr Maliki who was able to eventually patch together the necessary support needed to keep his office.

The new government includes members of all of Iraq’s major political and sectarian factions, including Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Mr Maliki alluded to the challenges in putting together a unity government in such a fractured political system where until just recently political parties were waging their battles in the streets with guns instead of in the halls of parliament.

The ministries still to be decided include the critical defence, interior and national security posts. Those positions are closely watched in Iraq for any sign that they are being abused by one side or another across the sectarian divide as the US military prepares to withdraw from Iraq entirely in a year’s time.

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