Kurds form government

ARBIL (AFP) - Kurds in northern Iraq have formed their first government, following a general election which resulted in an even split between the two main parties. The Prime Minister, Fouad Maassum, a politburo member of Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), held his first cabinet meeting yesterday.

The PUK and Masoud Barzani's rival Democratic Party of Kurdistan (DPK) each won 50 of the assembly's 105 seats in the 19 May election, which was dismissed as illegal by the Baghdad government. The remaining five seats were allocated to Christian parties.

Mr Maassum, elected prime minister by the Kurdish parliament, named the PUK's General Kemal Mufti as minister for the Peshmergas, the Kurdish fighters. The PUK and DPK command 200,000 fighters. Kurdish leaders have urged the rivals to join forces.