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Iraq parliament approves last 7 members of new gov't

By AFP - Jun 06,2020 - Last updated at Jun 06,2020

BAGHDAD — Iraq's parliament Saturday gave its vote of confidence to seven Cabinet ministers, including the key oil and foreign affairs posts, completing the 22-member government of Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhemi.

Ihsan Ismaeel, the former head of the Basra Oil Company (BOC), was appointed minister of oil of OPEC's second-largest producing country.

He will inherit a challenging portfolio, as Iraq is struggling to cope with a collapse in crude prices and a decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut production.

Low revenues have been catastrophic for Iraq, which relies on oil sales to fund more than 90 percent of its budget.

Fuad Hussein, who served as finance minister in the previous government, returns to the Cabinet but this time to head the ministry of foreign affairs.

A Kurdish veteran politician known to be close to Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, Hussein is the only member of the old government to join the new line-up.

He will take up his post just days before the launch of a strategic dialogue between Iraq and the United States, which has complained of Baghdad's close ties to its neighbour, Iran.

MPs also approved Kadhemi’s picks for ministers of trade, agriculture, culture, justice and migration.

“My Cabinet is now complete with today’s vote. This is vital in implementing our program and delivering on our commitments to our people — who are waiting for actions, not words,” Kadhemi said in a tweet on Saturday.

Last month, the 329-member parliament had approved 15 ministers, ending months of deadlock over the premiership after the resignation in December of former premier Adel Abdel Mahdi.

He stepped down following unprecedented protests over government graft and unemployment that saw tens of thousands of demonstrators hit the streets in the capital and Shiite-majority south.

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