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Iraqi PM gains backing for key security jobs

Nuri al-Maliki has won the approval of Shi'ite Alliance for nominees for the interior and defence posts and will present them to parliament.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2006 14:53 IST

Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has won the approval of his Shi'ite Alliance for nominees for the interior and defence posts and will present them to parliament on Thursday, Shi'ite sources said.

Separately, the US military said Maliki would make a "very important announcement" at a news conference in Baghdad due to start around 10:30 am.

An official in Maliki's office said it would be with the top US commander in Iraq, General George Casey, but did not give details.

It was not clear whether it was related to the expected nomination of new interior and defence ministers.

"Last night the Alliance gave Maliki authorisation to present the candidates for interior and defence minister to parliament today," Alliance member Bahaa al-Araji told the agency.

Maliki apparently broke the deadlock by offering to present two Shi'ite nominees for interior minister -- Jawaad al-Bolani and Farouk al-Araji -- in a bid to satisfy several leaders in his fractious Alliance.

Maliki's Sunni Arab nominee for defence minister -- Iraqi ground forces commander General Abdel Qader Jassim -- remains the same, said the sources.

Parliamentary approval for any candidates Maliki offers could help pull him out of a political crisis that has hurt efforts to impose a security crackdown against a Sunni Arab insurgency and sectarian violence raising fears of civil war.

Sunnis and Kurds have told Maliki they would back his candidate Araji for interior minister but three rival parties in his Alliance want Bolani, a former army colonel under Saddam Hussein.

The interior ministry came under intense scrutiny under the previous minister, accused by Sunni leaders of sanctioning death squads, a charge he denied.

Maliki has said he wanted to choose non-sectarian ministers to run his national unity government of Shi'ites, Kurds and Sunnis, the minority sect once dominant under Saddam.

First Published: Jun 08, 2006 14:53 IST