Iraq Assembly Approves Cabinet

Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari gestures during a news briefing at his headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, April 27, 2005 while announcing that he submitted to the presidential council a proposal for a broad-based Cabinet. Al-Jaafari did not release any of the names on the list, but said it included representatives of all the country's major groups, including Shiite and Sunni Arabs.
The interim National Assembly approved by a show of hands Thursday a partial Cabinet, including 27 ministers and five acting ministers, ushering in Iraq's first elected government since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The Cabinet was approved by 180 lawmakers out of the 185 present in the 275-member parliament, Speaker Hajim al-Hassani announced to applause.

Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari submitted a broad-based Cabinet, including members of Iraq's main Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish factions. But disputes remained over two deputy prime ministers' slots and the defense, oil, electricity, industry and human rights ministries.

Al-Jaafari himself will be acting defense minister, a position that was supposed to go to a Sunni Arab.

Ahmad Chalabi, a former Pentagon favorite from al-Jaafari's Shiite-dominated alliance, will be one of four deputy prime ministers and acting oil minister.

Kurdish official and former Vice President Rowsch Nouri Shaways will be another deputy and acting electricity minister.

In other developments:

  • In new attacks Thursday, insurgents fired at least six mortar rounds toward a U.S. military base Musayyib, 40 miles south of Baghdad, but hit a nearby bus station instead, killing four Iraqis and wounding 21, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. The attack took place during the city's busy morning commute. U.S. forces sent a five-man medical team to the bus station, including a doctor, to help the wounded, and Iraqi forces brought medical supplies, the U.S. military said in a statement. One seriously wounded civilian was airlifted to a U.S. hospital; the others were treated at a local hospital, the U.S. military said.
  • In another attack Thursday, a suicide car bomb exploded near an Iraqi army checkpoint, wounding four Iraqi soldiers, three U.S. soldiers and seven Iraqi civilians, the U.S. military said. The attack occurred outside Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, said U.S. Maj. Richard Goldenberg.
  • In the capital, Lt. Col. Alaa Khalil Ibrahim, who worked in the visa section of the Interior Ministry, was shot dead on the way to work by gunmen in an eastern Baghdad neighborhood, police said.
  • A deadline set by Iraqi militants threatening to kill three kidnapped Romanian journalists and their Iraqi-American translator lapsed Wednesday night with no word on their fate.

    Al-Jaafari has struggled to reconcile the competing demands of Iraq's myriad factions since Jan. 30 elections.

    Shiite leaders rejected his initial choices for a Sunni deputy prime minister and defense minister because of suspicions they had ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, which brutally repressed Iraqi's majority Shiites and Kurds.

    Al-Jaafari also faced infighting within his United Iraqi Alliance, the largest bloc in parliament, over the oil and electricity portfolios.

    Lawmakers earlier said the Cabinet would include 17 Shiite Arab ministers, eight Kurds, six Sunnis and a Christian. Among them are six women, responsible for seven portfolios, according to Thursday's announcement.