Iraq PM sworn with partial cabinet as lawmakers disagree

Iraq's Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi, speaks to parliament at the parliament headquarters, in Baghdad, Iraq October 24, 2018. Iraqi Parliament Office/Handout via REUTERS

SULAIMANIYA, Iraq/BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s new Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was sworn in on Wednesday with only a partial Cabinet after lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on key postings including interior and defense.

A rowdy parliament session to approve Abdul Mahdi’s government list created more uncertainty for Iraq, months after an inconclusive election, with parties and blocs wrangling over appointments.

The new premier faces the daunting task of rebuilding much of the country after a devastating war against Islamic State, as well as solving acute economic problems and power and water shortages.

Eight ministries have yet to be decided, ahead of a Nov. 2 deadline.

Among the 14 ministers who were sworn in, Thamer Ghadhban became Oil Minister and veteran Kurdish politician Fuad Hussein Finance Minister.

Ghadhban replaced Jabar al-Luaibi, who was recently made head of the new National Oil Company. Ghadhban helped resuscitate a flagging oil industry after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. He was interim oil minister from 2004-5 and a former energy advisor to outgoing premier Haider al-Abadi.

Abdul Mahdi was initially expected to nominate a full 22-member cabinet, including the defense and interior ministers.

But lawmakers from Moqtada al-Sadr’s bloc Saeroon, Abadi’s Nasr Alliance, Vice President Ayad Allawi’s Wataniya, and Sunni Muslim blocs left the room before voting on the remaining eight posts could take place.

More Stories