Iraq delays unveiling of new govt
Baghdad, December 20, 2010
Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki will not announce Iraq's new government as expected on Monday, a spokesman for the parliament speaker said.
"The work schedule of today's session does not include any ... announcement of the cabinet," said Omar Al-Mashhadani, media secretary for speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi.
Al-Maliki had been scheduled to announce his cabinet choices in a session of parliament. Iraq has been without a new government for more than nine months since an inconclusive election.
A deal last month between Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs put Maliki on track for a second term.
In his new cabinet, he is expected to retain Oil Minister Hussain Al-Shahristani, the Shi'ite architect of ambitious plans to turn Iraq into a top global oil producer, as well as Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, a Kurd.
Shahristani is seen as a vital member of the new cabinet and his reappointment is important to assure investors Iraq will honour deals to develop its vast reserves.
Iraq is seeking to rebuild damaged and neglected infrastructure after decades of war and sanctions. It relies on oil for 95 percent of federal revenues and has set out ambitious targets to boost output capacity to 12 million barrels per day (bpd) over the next six or seven years from 2.5 million today.
Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shi'ite whose cross-sectarian coalition won the most seats in the March 7 vote but who was unable to garner enough support to secure the premiership, will also join the government.
Allawi's decision, which he announced on Sunday after weeks of uncertainty, could soothe worries about renewed sectarian violence.
Allawi said he would accept a job as the head of a national strategic policy council that was offered as part of a power-sharing deal on November 10.
The agreement returned Kurd Jalal Talabani to the presidency and made Osama Al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, parliament's speaker. - Reuters