Maliki to name Iraq govt Monday; Shahristani stays

Hussain al-Shahristani will be reappointed Iraqi oil minister when a new cabinet is unveiled, senior officials said

Maliki to name Iraq govt Monday; Shahristani stays

Hussain al-Shahristani will be reappointed Iraqi oil minister when a new cabinet is unveiled on Monday, senior officials said, keeping in place the architect of plans to turn Iraq into a top global oil producer.

Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, a Kurd, also will remain at his post but a final selection of a new finance minister had not yet been made, sources close to Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said.

Shahristani, a Shi'ite, led the oil ministry as it set Iraq on an ambitious path to boost its production capacity to 12 million barrels per day in the next six or seven years, rivalling global leader Saudi Arabia, from 2.5 million bpd now.

Analysts say target of 6-7 million bpd is more realistic.

Shahristani will be a key member of Maliki's new cabinet as Iraq tries to rebuild damaged and neglected infrastructure more than seven years after the U.S.-led invasion that killed tens of thousands of people.

Iraqis have been waiting for a new government for more than nine months since a March parliamentary election that failed to produce a clear winner and displayed the depth of Iraq's ethnic and sectarian divisions.

After months of squabbling over positions and power, the main Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions reached agreement last month on dividing up the top government posts.

Shahristani, a nuclear scientist who oversees the ministry that delivers about 95 percent of Iraq's federal revenues, will return to the job he started in 2006.

"The minister of oil will stay in his place as the minister of oil," said Abdul-Hadi al-Hasani, an official with Maliki's coalition and a former deputy leader of parliament's oil and gas committee.

Other senior sources, including one close to Shahristani, confirmed that he would return as oil minister rather than take a post as deputy prime minister in charge of energy affairs.

Shahristani did not think the new job would give him enough influence, a senior member of Maliki's negotiating team said.

"The prime minister has a desire to let Shahristani be deputy prime minister for power affairs but Shahristani thinks that the minister will be the owner of the final decisions in his ministry," the source said.

Shahristani's return amounts to a pledge to oil companies to honour contracts to develop Iraq's vast oil reserves.

Big government

Maliki intends to name a cabinet expected to include 42 posts including three deputy prime ministers. The jobs are being divvied up among Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions according to the seats they won in the March election.

Two of the most prominent Kurds in the government's inner circle will be familiar faces: Zebari and Deputy Prime Minister Ross Nouri Shawis.

"The ministry of foreign affairs is settled for Zebari and a deputy prime minister post is settled for Ross Nouri Shawis," said Mahmoud Othman, a senior Kurdish lawmaker.

Still unsettled is the role of Iyad Allawi, the secularist Shi'ite former prime minister who led his cross-sectarian Iraqiya bloc to 91 seats in parliament, more than any other coalition.

Under a power-sharing deal reached on Nov. 10, he was expected to take the leadership of a national strategic policies council. But he has since wavered on whether to join Maliki's government and said on Friday he would take part only if he was given real power.

Maliki has said the strategic policies council would be an advisory body.

Senior officials said Maliki's announcement on Monday would not include security posts, including the interior minister, who has control of the Iraqi police; the defence minister, who controls the army; and the national security minister.

Nominees for those sensitive posts have not yet been decided due to a dearth of qualified, independent candidates, officials said.


Last Mod: 18 Aralık 2010, 17:53
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