The hands were raised, the voting was completed, and Iraq finally has a new government approved by the parliament.
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has faced a few stumbling blocks along the way, but he has now successfully filled the effective power vacuum that existed since January’s elections. “The journey was full of blood, words, sweat and tears until this day when our people gave you their trust to carry out this responsibility.” It is a big administration: Prime Minister Jaafari, four deputy prime ministers and a total of 31 cabinet ministers. “The formation of the government was delayed but this should not be seen as a problem because this is the first elected government,” explained Communications Minister Fuad Massum, an ethnic Kurd. “This delay was part of the democratic process because there is more than one person, party and side imposing its opinion,” he added. Despite the air of celebration not everyone is happy. Sunni muslim politicians say the domination of Shi’ites is unfair. They are pressing Jaafari to name Sunnis to the handful of ministry posts still vacant to redress the balance. Iraq’s first democratically elected government in more than 50 years has its work cut out to meet deadlines later this year. A new constitution has to be drawn-up by mid August, then put to a referendum before more parliamentary elections in December.