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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Key Iraq ministers get approval
PM Nouri Maliki, National Security Minister Shirwan Waili, Interior Minister Jawad Bulani, Defence Minister Abdul Qadir Obeidi
The new appointees hold the security of Iraq in their hands
The Iraqi parliament has approved Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's nominees for the key government posts of defence and interior ministers.

The two posts had remained vacant for nearly three weeks due to wrangling between the main parties in the governing Shia alliance.

Jawad Bulani, a Shia, is the new interior minister and Abdul Qadir Obeidi, a Sunni, the defence minister.

Shirwan Waili has also been approved as minister of national security.

The nominees were approved by an overwhelming majority and sworn in by the parliamentary speaker after brief questioning by members of parliament.

Filling the posts was seen as vital in furthering the government's efforts to fight the insurgency.

For the first time since the parliamentary elections in December 2005, Iraq now has a complete government.

Saddam opponent

Lt Gen Obeidi, a general in the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein, told parliament that he had been demoted for opposing the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

He said that he was forced to retire in 1992 and detained two years later. He faced a military court which ordered the confiscation of his house and other assets.

"All my properties were confiscated. In 2003, my only house was returned. Then I joined the new Iraqi army as the commander of operations room and then commander of military operations in western Iraq, and finally the commando units of the infantry."

Gen Obeidi says he has no links to any Iraqi political faction.

"As a defence minister, I will work for all Iraqis and will not work according to my tribal, religious and ethnic background. I will be only an Iraqi and will spare no effort. If I find myself unqualified I will be the first one to quit."

Difficult task

Mr Bulani was a member of Iraq's interim Governing Council in 2004. He became a member of the Iraqi parliament in 2005.

During the rule of Saddam Hussein he was an air force engineer, but left the armed forces in 1999.

"I promise [the Iraqi people] that the interior ministry will be neutral, independent and will not be under the influence of anyone," he said after he won parliament's endorsement.

"The interior ministry will preserve Iraqi blood."

The extent of his security experience is not clear, but he has a tough job on his hands - to clean up a ministry which stands accused of involvement in a string of mysterious killings of Sunnis, says the BBC's Middle East analyst Roger Hardy.

Mr Waili, also a Shia, is a member of the Dawa party.


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