Iraqi lawmakers signed off on the rest of Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi’s government on Saturday, following weeks of horse-trading between political factions over individual ministers.
A total of 247 MPs approved the seven ministry posts that had remained vacant since Mr Al Kadhimi was sworn in last month. They include oil, trade, foreign affairs, justice, migration and displacement and culture and agriculture ministries, completing the premier’s 22-member Cabinet.
“My cabinet is now complete with today’s vote. This is vital in implementing our program and delivering on our commitments to our people - who are waiting for actions not words,” Mr Al Kadhimi said in a tweet following the vote.
Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail took the position of oil minister. Mr Ismail is the director general of the state-run Basra Oil Company that oversees production and exports from Iraq's southern oilfields.
His appointment comes as Iraq participates in Opec+ talks to decide on an extension to oil production cuts amid the Covid-19 pandemic and low global oil prices.
Political veteran Fuad Hussein took the role of foreign minister weeks after losing his post as finance minister, which he held for two years. The Kurdish politician also served as deputy prime minister under previous Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
Lawmakers also approved the resignation of Hadi Al Ameri, head of the powerful Fatah bloc made up of parties with affiliated paramilitary groups that fall under the Popular Mobilisation Forces.
His resignation comes amid widespread speculation that he will assume the helm of the PMF, replacing Falah Fayadh. Abdul-Karim Younes was named as his replacement.
Mr Al Ameri also heads the Badr Organisation, a political party with a military wing considered friendly with Iran.
Mr Al Kadhimi’s government was approved May 7 when legislators passed the majority of his Cabinet lineup. It is not uncommon in Iraq for some government posts to remain vacant pending consensus among political factions.
The government of Mr Abdul-Mahdi remained incomplete for months after he was sworn in primarily because of political disagreements over key posts including defence and interior.
With his government now complete, Mr Al Kadhimi’s administration must tackle myriad crises facing Iraq, including financial shortfalls spurred by falling oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic. His government is also preparing for upcoming strategic talks this month with the US that will focus on the ongoing American military presence in Iraq.
Mr Al Kadhimi, Iraq's former intelligence chief, is not backed by any particular party and seen as acceptable to both Iran and the United States, Iraq's two main allies.
His cabinet nominations were approved after backroom deals among Iraq's political factions.
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