22 Dec 2010

Iraq gets a new government at last

5:01 pm on 22 December 2010

Parliament in Iraq has ended nine months of deadlock, since inconclusive elections in March, by approving a new government.

MPs on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of Nouri al Maliki as prime minister for a second time. He was renominated last month following a power-sharing deal with all main political factions.

But the ministries of interior, defence and national security remain unfilled.

Mr Maliki said he had delayed proposing ministers for the three security portfolios because he needed more time to evaluate the options, having received some proposals as late as Tuesday.

He said the lack of women nominees for any of the ministries had also been a reason for the postponement of the cabinet appointments.

Parliament approved the creation of a National Council for Strategic Policies, headed by former prime minister Iyad Allawi. It is intended to oversee foreign policy and security issues, but it is not clear how much power it will have.

MPs also backed a plan to liberalise Iraq's economy and fight terrorism.

The parliamentary election held on 7 March left no single group with a majority in Iraq's 325-seat Council of Representatives.