Iraqi Parliament Approves Partial New Cabinet

BAGHDAD (AP) -

Iraq’s parliament officially named Haider al-Abadi the country’s new prime minister late Monday and approved most of the candidates put forward for his cabinet amid mounting pressure to form an inclusive government that can collectively cap the advance of Sunni militants.

Lawmakers approved all candidates proposed for the new government, with the exception of a few posts, namely the defense and interior ministers. Al-Abadi requested an additional week to name them.

Outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and former Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujeifi were given the largely ceremonial posts of vice president. Kurdish politician and former Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari was named as one of three deputy prime ministers.

Al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister for the past eight years, relinquished the post to his nominated replacement Aug. 14, ending a political deadlock that has plunged the country into uncertainty as it fights a Sunni militant insurgency. Al-Maliki had been struggling for weeks to stay on for a third four-year term as prime minister amid an attempt by opponents to push him out, accusing him of monopolizing power and pursuing a fiercely pro-Shiite agenda that has alienated the Sunni minority.

The U.S. and other countries have been pushing for a more representative government that will ease anger among Sunnis, who felt marginalized by al-Maliki’s administration, helping fuel the dramatic sweep by the Islamic State terror group over much of northern and western Iraq since June. The insurgency seized Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, and routed Iraq’s beleaguered armed forces. Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.5 million have been displaced by the violence.