Main players in the new Iraqi government

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Prime Minister Iyad Allawi

Accepted documents transferring sovereignty of the chaotic country with the words: "We feel we are capable of controlling the security situation." Born in 1945, he is a US-backed Shia Muslim with military and CIA connections. His power base, the Iraqi National Accord, made up largely of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party and former military men, stresses secularism and counts Sunnis and Shias among its members. A neurologist, he holds an MSc in medicine and a doctorate in medicine obtained at London University.

Minister of Defence Hazem Shaalan

Born in 1947 in Diwaniyah. Sheikh of the Ghazal tribe, he gained a degree in economics and management from Baghdad University in 1972 and began managing branches of the Iraqi Real Estate Bank. Forced to leave Iraq in 1985 because of opposition to the former regime; managed a property company in the UK; governor of Diwaniyah since last April.

Oil Minister Thamir Abbas Ghadban

Born 1945 in Babylon; earned bachelor's degree in geology from University College London and a master's degree in petroleum reservoir engineering from Imperial College at London University. Was detained and demoted from his position in the former regime's oil ministry for supporting democratic reforms.

Justice Minister Malik Dohan al-Hassan

Born in 1920 in Hillah. Elected president of Iraq's Lawyers Union after Saddam's fall, he had lodged early protests about the conditions under which the US-led occupation administration was holding prisoners and about the prisoners' lack of legal defence. Had been a political prisoner under Saddam. Was culture minister in the mid-1960s.

Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, President

A prominent Sunni member of the Shammar tribe, which includes Shia clans. A civil engineer, the Mosul-born Mr Yawer, 45, studied in Saudi Arabia and at Georgetown university in the US. Presidency is a largely ceremonial post.

Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Nakib

Provincial official in Tikrit. Son of General Hassan al-Naqib, a former deputy chief of staff under Saddam who defected in the late 1970s and became active in the exiled opposition. A 48-year-old US-trained civil engineer.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari

The 51-year-old Zebari has travelled worldwide to canvass support for what he calls a new, united and democratic Iraq. Iraq's first Kurdish foreign minister, he was a guerrilla fighter during Kurdish rebellions against Saddam.