Iraq Lawmakers Reject Defense, Interior Ministry Candidates

Iraqi lawmakers voted against candidates selected by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi for the interior and defense posts, a setback for efforts to unite the country against the Islamic State.

Abadi had put forward Sunni lawmaker Jaber al-Jaberi as his candidate for defense minister and Riyad Ghareeb, a Shiite, for interior minister, according to a statement from the parliament speaker’s media office. Shortly after their names were presented, both were rejected in a vote.

Lawmakers only approved the candidacy of Muhsen Asfour as water resources minister. The session was adjourned until Sept. 18.

Hamed al-Mutlaq, a Sunni lawmaker, said by phone that Sunni groups had not voted for Jaberi because “a strong man” is needed to fill the defense ministry post.

In announcing his program earlier this month, Abadi pledged to rebuild the army, boost the powers of local government, combat corruption, and create a government representing all of Iraq’s religious and ethnic groups to help fight extremist groups.

Islamic State controls large swaths of OPEC’s second-largest oil producer and its advance shattered confidence in the previous premier, Nouri al-Maliki.

Tourism, immigration and displacement, and women’s affairs ministers also still need to be approved, Haneen Al-Qadou, a Shiite lawmaker, said by phone.

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