Iraq parliament approves final seven members of new government

New appointments, which include minister of oil, complete the 22-member government of PM Kadhimi.

    Fifteen ministers were approved last month, ending months of deadlock following the resignation of former premier Adel Abdul Mahdi [Reuters]
    Fifteen ministers were approved last month, ending months of deadlock following the resignation of former premier Adel Abdul Mahdi [Reuters]

    Iraq's parliament has given its vote of confidence to seven cabinet ministers, including the key oil and foreign affairs posts, completing the 22-member government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

    Fifteen ministers were approved last month, ending months of deadlock following the resignation of former premier Adel Abdul Mahdi who stepped down following unprecedented protests, which began in October, over corruption in government and unemployment.

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    "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," al-Kadhimi said in a tweet on Saturday.

    The new ministers include Ihsan Ismaeel, the former head of the Basra Oil Company (BOC), who has been appointed minister of oil of OPEC's second-largest producing country.

    Ismaeel will inherit a challenging task, as Iraq is struggling to cope with a collapse of crude prices and a decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut production.

    Low revenues have been catastrophic for Iraq, which relies on oil sales to fund more than 90 percent of its budget.

    Fuad Hussein, who served as finance minister in the previous government, returned to the cabinet but this time to head the ministry of foreign affairs.

    A Kurdish veteran politician known to be close to Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, Hussein is the only member of the old government to join the new lineup.

    He will take up his post just days before the launch of a strategic dialogue between Iraq and the United States, which has complained of Baghdad's close ties to its neighbour, Iran.

    Human rights groups say at least 600 protesters were killed during the unrest.

    Al-Kadhimi has promised to hold those responsible for the killings accountable, but some of his early actions have already sparked further discord.

    SOURCE: News agencies