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New Iraqi PM, two-thirds of proposed ministers sworn in

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iraq's new Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi (C) and Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi (R) arrive at the parliament on October 24, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

New Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and almost two-thirds of his ministerial picks were sworn in on Wednesday, but lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on the rest of the cabinet, postponing the votes to November 6.

Out of the 22-member cabinet proposed by the 76-year-old prime minister, 14 picks won a vote of confidence, but the parliament did not make any decision about the rest, including the ministers of interior and defense.

Thamer Ghadhban became oil minister and veteran Kurdish politician Fuad Hussein was sworn in as the finance minister. Mohammed Ali al-Hakeem was elected as minister of foreign affairs, Naim al-Rubaye as communications minster, Alaa al-Alwani as minister of health, and Abdullah Luaibi as transport minister.

Ahmed Riyadh (minister of youth and sports), Bassem al-Rubaye (minister of labor and social affairs),
Luay al-Khatteeb (minister of electricity), Mohammed Hashim (minister of trade), Jamal al-Adili (minister of water resources), Salih Abdullah Jabouri (minister of industry), Saleh al-Hassani (minister of agriculture), and Bangin Rekani (minister of housing and reconstruction) were the other ministers approved by the parliament.

Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi (C) is seen at special session dedicated to discussing the proposed government of PM-designate Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Oct. 24, 2018.

Before voting on the remaining eight posts could take place, lawmakers from Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc Sairoon, Haider al-Abadi's Nasr Alliance, Vice-President Ayad Allawi's Wataniya, and Sunni Muslim blocs left the room, arguing that they were not satisfied with the rest of the candidates.

"It's enough to approve 14 ministers,” Nasr lawmaker Ali Sined said.

During the Wednesday session, some MPs reportedly accused proposed ministers of corruption.

While the Iraqi Constitution gives the new prime minister until November 2 to form his government, the Iraqi parliament is to reconvene on November 6 to vote on the remaining members of the cabinet, Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi said.

PM Abdul-Mahdi faces the daunting task of rebuilding much of the country after a devastating war against Daesh, as well as solving acute economic problems and power and water shortages.

The premier on Wednesday detailed his agenda for the next four years in a 122-page document, which lists plans for developing the war-torn country, settling differences with the Kurdistan Regional Government, boosting the economy and reducing poverty.

In terms of security, he said all arms must be in the hands of the state, rejecting “semi-states” within the country. He also vowed his government would resolve electricity problems by the summer of 2019.

Millions of Iraqis voted on May 12 in their first parliamentary election since the defeat of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, but a contentious recount process delayed the announcement of final results until August.

Sadr's Sairoon bloc came first in the polls, while the Fatah Alliance led by Hadi al-Amiri, and Abadi's Nasr finished second and third respectively.

The Iraqi politics has long been vulnerable to the differences lying along the country’s major ethnic and sectarian fault lines.

Under a de facto power-sharing agreement, the presidency of Iraq is traditionally held by a Kurdish politician, the PM is a Shia, while the parliament speaker is a Sunni.

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