Da Gulf News del 06/04/2005
Originale su http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/RegionNF.asp?ArticleID=159662

Iraqi parliament elects Talabani president

Baghdad - Iraq's new parliament chose Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as president today, paving the way for Iraq's first democratically elected government in 50 years.

Talabani is the first Kurd to be Iraq's president, his election seen as a move towards reaching out to the nation's long-repressed Kurdish minority.

Lawmakers conducted the largely symbolic election in secret.

The two elected vice presidents are Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shi'ite who was finance minister in the outgoing government, and Sunni Arab tribal leader Ghazi Yawar.

The three had been agreed upon in negotiations held during the past weeks, and no other candidates were proposed yesterday.

Lawmakers cast 227 ballots in favour of Talabani and his two vice presidents. Thirty other ballots were left blank in apparent protest of the three candidates.

The announcement drew applause, and many lawmakers crowded around Talabani to congratulate him.

After the election, Talibani was greeted by a standing ovation, and he threw his hands in the air and clenched his fists together in a sign of unity.

He promised to govern not just for the Kurds, but for all Iraqis "freed from the most horrific dictatorship."

In the coming weeks, Talabani will also be overseeing the return of Kurds displaced by ousted leader Saddam Hussein.

One of his biggest challenges will be Kirkuk, an oil-rich city 290 kilometers north of Baghdad that the Kurds want to incorporate into their self-governing region.

Meanwhile, the Islamist-led Shi'ite alliance that won a slim majority in parliament and the Kurdish coalition that came second in the polls have been arguing for weeks about forming a government.

They have also been trying to include representatives of the Sunni Arab minority that dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein but was left sidelined after most Sunni Arabs stayed away from the January polls due to intimidation and calls for a boycott.

There are only 17 Sunni Arab lawmakers in the 275-member parliament.

A prime minister is to be named within two week after the president and his deputies have been appointed.

Shi'ites and Kurds have agreed that Islamist Shi'ite leader Ibrahim Jaafari should be prime minister, taking over from secular Shi'ite Iyad Allawi.

Jaafari is expected to be officially appointed tomorrow and will then name a cabinet.

Disagreement remains on some cabinet posts, particularly the oil ministry which is coveted by both the Shi'ites and the Kurds.

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