Baghdad, Sept. 1 (Reuters): Iraq’s US-backed governing council named 25 ministers today, appointing little-known returned exile Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum as oil minister.
The council said in a statement that Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official Hoshyar Zebari had been appointed foreign minister, former exile Nouri Badran interior minister and Kamel al-Keylani finance minister. The officials will run the day-to-day work of the ministries, but there will be no Prime Minister. Overall authority in the country remains in the hands of US governor Paul Bremer until an elected government is installed.
The council named a woman, Nisreen Brawi, as minister for public works. It also created a ministry for human rights to be led by Abdul Basit Turki.
No ministers have been appointed for defence or information. Both positions were scrapped by the Washington-installed administration ruling Iraq since US-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein in April.
The ministers would be sworn in after tomorrow’s funeral of Shia leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, who was assassinated on Friday, the statement said. The council had declared a three-day mourning period for Hakim and scores of his followers killed in a massive car bombing in Najaf.
Former oil officials from Iraq said Bahr al-Uloum was unknown to the old guard of oil technocrats, though he was qualified in petroleum engineering and had some experience working in the Kuwaiti oil industry. He spent much of his life in London and returned to Iraq in April, they said. Bremer appointed the governing council in July.
The council has named a committee to prepare for writing a new constitution ahead of elections next year.
Al Jazeera television aired today an audio tape purportedly from ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in which he denied any role in last week’s bomb attack in Najaf that killed a top Shia cleric. “The infidel invaders are accusing, without proof, the followers of Saddam Hussein after the killing of Shia leader Hakim,” said the voice on the tape. “This is not what Saddam attributes to himself.”
More than 80 people were killed in Friday’s car bomb attack in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, including Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim.
The US and members of the governing council have blamed the devastating attack on Saddam and his loyalists.
Five Iraqis were detained over the bombing.
A human rights law firm in Belfast said today it was supporting the families of Iraqi civilians shot dead by the US military in a planned multimillion dollar law suit.
Madden & Finucane, set up by a high-profile Catholic human rights lawyer who was later murdered by Protestant guerrillas, said plans were at an early stage to mount a 15 million dollar legal challenge in U.S. courts.