Iraq parliament names Haider al-Abadi as prime minister in bid for non-sectarian unity government

The US and Britain have been pushing for a more representative government to ease anger among Sunnis marginalized by Nouri al-Maliki's administration

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The Independent Online

Amid pressure to form a unity government capable of defeating Isis militants, Iraq’s parliament has officially named Haider al-Abadi as prime minister and approved most of his Cabinet appointments.

The interior and defence minister positions, however, both remained unfilled, with Mr al-Abadi saying he needed an extra week to make the two appointments.

In a move apparently designed to enhance a sense of non-sectarian national unity, Salih al-Mutlak, a Sunni, and Hoshyar Zebari, the Kurdish former Foreign Minister, were made deputy prime ministers.

The US, Britain and other countries have been pushing for a more representative government that will ease anger among Sunnis, who felt marginalized by outgoing prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's administration.  Many observers have said that this sense of alienation helped make it easier for the Sunni extremists of ISIL to make dramatic advances in Iraq.

 

John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State hailed the formation of a new government in Baghdad as "a major milestone" for Iraq.

He said: "Overcoming the obstacle of ethnic and sectarian divides, the Iraqi parliament approved a new and inclusive government, one that has the potential to unite all of Iraq's diverse communities for a strong Iraq, a united Iraq, and to give those communities the chance to build the future that all Iraqis desire and deserve."

Mr Kerry said he would travel to the Middle East on Tuesday "to build the broadest possible coalition of partners around the globe to confront, degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL."

Mr al-Abadi told members of the Iraqi parliament that he would "back the military operations in all the areas of confrontation against the armed gangs and the forces of terrorism till victory is achieved."

President Barack Obama phoned the new Iraqi prime minister on Monday to discuss Washington's commitment to help Baghdad's new government fight Islamic State militants.

A White House spokesman said President Obama and Mr al-Abadi “agreed on the importance of having the new Iraqi government quickly take concrete steps to address the aspirations and legitimate grievances of the Iraqi people.

"The prime minister expressed his commitment to work with all communities in Iraq as well as regional and international partners to strengthen Iraq's capabilities to fight against this common enemy."

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