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Iraq's parliament approves new defense, interior ministers

By Allen Cone
Iraq's parliament approves new defense, interior ministers
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi nominated new ministers of defense and interior who were approved by the parliament Monday. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Iraq's parliament on Monday approved new ministers of defense and interior, two positions that had been vacant since 2015.

In Baghdad, the 220-member Council of Representatives approved Erfan al-Hayyali as defense minister after serving as training and operations director at the army's elite Counter-Terrorism Force. He was a member of the ruling State of Law Coalition.

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Qassem al-Aaraji, a member of the parliament's security and defense committee, was chosen as interior minister. He belongs to the Mutahidun faction headed by former parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who made the nominations, attended the parliamentary session Monday.

The posts were vacant amid intense political differences over the past year on filling them.

The parliament removed previous Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi in August 2015 over accusations of corruption, which he denied. Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri accused Obeidi of abusing his post to settle political accounts.

Mohamed al-Ghabban resigned as interior minister in July 2015, hours after a booby-trapped car explosion killed 200 people in Baghdad's region of Karrada. He alleged the government had failed to make drastic improvements to the security system.

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