Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki delays unveiling new government

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BAGHDAD. December 20. KAZINFORM Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is due to unveil a partial list of cabinet ministers, his spokesman says, amid reports of ongoing disputes among Iraq's rival political factions; Kazinform refers to BBC News.

It is the latest setback in efforts to form a unity government in Iraq, nine months after parliamentary elections.

Ali Dabbagh said Mr Maliki would announce "half the new government" at a parliament session later on Monday.

The cabinet must be in place by Saturday, under Iraq's constitution.

There are 37 posts in all, and dividing up portfolios among Iraq's diverse and often mutually antagonistic factions has been the focus of the past month's political wrangling.

The new cabinet is expected to include all the major factions, including the Kurds, Shia and Sunni Arabs.

Each of the prime minister's nominations will still have to be approved by the Iraqi parliament.

Even before Monday's long-awaited unveiling of the national unity cabinet, political parties were reportedly squabbling over posts and the timing of the announcement was in doubt.

Mr Maliki had been expected to name his entire cabinet, except for three sensitive posts linked to national security.

But politicians said on Monday that as many as half of the ministerial positions were still undecided.

In an earlier conflicting statement, the spokesman for the parliament speaker said the announcements would be postponed until Wednesday, due to lingering disputes over the posts.

It will be a delicate balancing act for Mr Maliki, who has to reconcile various Shia groups, as well as the Sunnis and the Kurds, to put together government of national unity that has at least a chance of being able to work together, says the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Baghdad.

But the real test of this coalition will come when these newly-appointed ministers get down to work, and start to tackle the country's many problems - from neglected and crumbling infrastructure to continuing violence and instability, our correspondent says.

See www.news.bbc.co.uk

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