Iraq 'national unity' cabinet is approved

Iraq's parliament today approved a 'national unity' cabinet, ending months of bitter haggling, Agence France-Presse reported. More than three months after the landmark elections, Iraq's 275-member national assembly finally approved the nominees for six posts in Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari's government which had remained empty since a partial cabinet was sworn in on May 3. Saadun al-Dulaimi, a Sunni Arab, was appointed defence minister.

The oil ministry went to Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum, son of a prominent &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Shiite cleric, who previously held the post in the interim administration appointed by US-led forces in September 2003. The three other ministers and one deputy premier appointed today include three Sunnis and one Shiite, informs the Forbes.

According to Reuters, &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Sunni Arabs were given the human rights ministry and the industry ministry, and a Sunni Arab deputy prime minister was named to join Shi'ite and Kurdish deputies already appointed.

This gives Sunni Arabs a strong cabinet presence despite the fact that they have minimal influence in parliament with only 17 of the assembly's 275 seats.

The Sunni Arab minority dominated Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule but was sidelined after the Jan. 30 elections, with most Sunni Arabs staying away from the polls due to calls for a boycott and fears of insurgent violence.

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