Iraq 's incoming prime minister breaks protocol and decides to have his government inaugurated immediately after its approval by parliament Saturday, a sign of his determination to waste no time addressing the new administration's top priority security. The decision to speed up the inauguration came as roadside bombs and other attacks killed 10 Iraqis and wounded 26 people on Friday, including a U.S. soldier riding through Baghdad in a minesweeper.
Iraqi kidnappers also released an Emirati diplomat kidnapped this week in Baghdad , his brother told The Associated Press Friday. Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki held a last-minute closed-door meeting in Baghdad 's heavily fortified Green Zone with representatives of Iraq 's major coalitions to get support for his Cabinet nominees.
Al-Maliki's two most important decisions regard his selection of defense and interior ministers. Sunni Arabs want the Defense Ministry, which runs the army, while the Shiites want the Interior Ministry, which controls the police. It has been suggested that al-Maliki might appoint himself to head the two ministries until all parties can agree. The Cabinet list, its members or its number has not been released, and al-Maliki said he will make it public when the 275-member parliament convenes Saturday in the Green Zone. Each member of the Cabinet has to be approved by parliament with an absolute majority and it remains unclear what will happen if any nominee is rejected.
The inauguration was to take place on Monday May 22, but al-Maliki apparently decided to reschedule it for the same day as the parliamentary approval making the event an all-day affair. There were unconfirmed reports that al-Maliki would visit the government's command center to receive a report on the security situation shortly after the inauguration sending a message that security will be his administration's top priority.
He was to hold his first Cabinet meeting Sunday. The second-highest ranking U.S. general in Iraq said the key to reducing American casualties in Iraq is to ensure the government can revive the economy. "I honestly believe that as this government begins work on the policies that will be required to put people to work and make use of the vast resources of Iraq that you're going to see a decrease in violence," Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multi-national Corps Iraq, told reporters.
In Baghdad , there was no confirmation of the release of Naji Rashid al-Nuaimi, 28, the first secretary at the United Arab Emirates Embassy from Iraqi authorities. In the Emirates' capital Abu Dhabi , a government official declined to comment on the report. Al-Noaimi was seized Tuesday night in Baghdad by gunmen who shot and wounded his Sudanese driver. The kidnapping was another blow to Iraq 's campaign to get Arab states to post ambassadors to Baghdad , despite an insurgency which saw the kidnapping and killing of three Arab diplomats last July.
His brother, Mohammed al-Nuaimi, said the family had been told by the government that he was free, but they did not know how his release had come about. "The officials just told us that he was released and he was on his way to the embassy," al-Nuaimi said in a phone call from his home in Dibba, a town in the southern Emirates.
In Friday's worst violence, a gunbattle between suspected insurgents and Iraqi police killed five civilians and wounded eight in Jihad, a neighborhood of western Baghdad , said police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq. He said U.S. forces helped police seal off the area after the fighting. On Friday, the day of worship in mostly Muslim Iraq, a roadside bomb hit a U.S. convoy in Dora, a mixed Sunni-Shiite-Christian area and one of the city's most violent districts.
It heavily damaged an armored vehicle used by explosive ordinance disposal teams to search for mines. One U.S. soldier was wounded and evacuated from the site in south Baghdad , the U.S. command said. _ Police also found the bullet-ridden bodies of four Iraqis who had been kidnapped and tortured by some of the many death squads that are active in the capital. Gunmen riding in a minibus opened fire on another one in the Abu Ghraib area just outside Baghdad , wounding 11 passengers, said police 1st Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi, reports the AP.
The FSB of Russia has distributed the footage of video surveillance over suspects, who allegedly worked to orchestrate a military coup in Belarus and planned to assassinate its president, Alexander Lukashenko