BAGHDAD, Iraq – The U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council (search) named a 25-member Cabinet on Monday, a much-delayed move that could accelerate the return of some powers from the American occupation administration to local authorities.
The body was made up of 13 Shiites, five Sunni Arabs, five Kurds -- who are also Sunnis -- one ethnic Turk and an Assyrian Christian.
The new Foreign Minister will be Hoshyar al-Zibari, who was spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Party (search). The key Oil Ministry will be headed by Ibrahim Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum, the son of Governing Council member Mohammed Bahr Al-Uloum, who on Saturday suspended his membership in the interim body because of the lack of security in Iraq and what he saw as the Americans' inability to protect prominent figures.
He cited the car bombing Friday in Najaf, the holiest Shiite city in Iraq, in which 125 were killed, including revered cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim (search).
The Information Ministry was abolished in the new government.
The Governing Council, formed on July 13, had been promising for weeks that it would name a government. It was unclear what delayed the naming of the Cabinet, but several members of the council had spent much time after their appointment on international trips seeking recognition for the body as the legitimate representative of the Iraqi people.
U.S. officials have voiced frustration at the slowness with which the council has gotten to work, especially in regard to taking a greater role in Iraqi security and gathering intelligence that might block attacks on American forces and prominent Iraqis.
The council said it had been prepared to announce the government list late last week but delayed it because of the Najaf bombing.
The naming of the government was the third major achievement of the council since it was formed in July.
After considerable delay, the council settled on a nine-member presidency with officials serving on a rotating, monthly basis. The council also has set up a commission to study how the country will proceed toward selecting members of a constitutional assembly to write a new legal framework for Iraq.
L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator for Iraq, has said the process of drafting a constitution, holding a referendum on it and conducting a national election for a new, independent government could be finished by the end of 2004.