The Iraqi House of Representatives held here on Tuesday its 14th ordinary session dedicated to naming members of the new cabinet, with parliament speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi presiding over.
The session gathered 279 MPs including heads of the leading parliamentary blocs such as head of the National Iraqi Alliance and Prime Minister-designate Nouri Al-Maliki, chairman of the Iraqiya List and former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi, and leader of the National Reform Trend and ex-interim prime minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari.
It was also attended by US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey as well as heads of Arab and foreign diplomatic missions.
Last night Al-Maliki handed Al-Nujaifi a list of the names of the new cabinet members and a draft 43-point government platform aiming to liberalize the economy.
Al-Nujaifi, in turn, set up a parliamentary panel, chaired by first deputy speaker of the parliament Qusai Al-Suhail, to probe the name-list and the platform.
Allawi called, in his address to the session, for equitable distribution of portfolios in a way that ensures power sharing and reflects national unity.
“It’s a national duty to do justice to the clear-sighted people (of Iraq) and give them free rein to exercise their normal role,” he said.
“We don’t want the people to remain captive to the narrow partisan interests and political affiliations of the parliamentary blocs,” Allawi stressed.
He hailed as “a difficult labor” the breakthrough brought about by the agreement on the new cabinet line-up, promising to give full support to the new government which takes office nine months after political and economic limbo.
For his part, Al-Maliki acknowledged that the new government fell short of meeting his aspirations because it has been formed under “exceptional conditions.”
“It took a long time to be formed in consultation with the leading parliamentary blocs; one of the challenges we faced was to include female members in the cabinet,” he pointed out.
“Though we believe that this particular stage needs the energies of men, we asked all political forces to nominate females for ministerial portfolios,” he explained.
“We pin high hopes on the potentials of the political figures present here and on the cooperation with the parliament to do our talks successfully,” the prime minister made clear.
Al-Maliki called for amending the election law in order to help a prime-minister designate to choose the cabinet members in a more direct and faster way.
For his part, Al-Jaafari voiced hope that the new government would be able to turn over a new leaf in the history of the country, overcome the legacy of the past disputes and send friendly messages to neighborly countries.
“One of the most effective means to overcome the domestic challenges is to pardon, and win the hearts of, those who had been misused,” the senior politician, who played a great role in bringing Al-Maliki and Allawi closer to each other, argued.
The parliament has unanimously given a vote of confidence to the new cabinet set-up which includes Al-Maliki as prime minister, three deputies to the prime minister, and 29 ministers.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari got his term in office renewed; he held this portfolio since the ouster of the former regime in 2003.
The three deputy prime ministers are former oil minister Hussein al-Shahristani, Rose Nouri Shawish and Saleh Al-Mutlaq.
Minister of State Bushra Hussein Saleh is the only female member of the cabinet.
The parliament talked Al-Maliki to run the affairs of the security portfolios’ the Defense Ministry, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of National Security pending the nomination of ministers.