Ahmad Chalabi (file photo) (AFP)
30 December 2005 -- Government officials have confirmed that Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi has been put in charge of the Oil Ministry, replacing Ibrahim Bahar al-Ulum.
Al-Ulum was officially put on leave, according to reports from international news agencies. In comments after news
of his replacement broke, al-Ulum said he objected to the decision and the fact that it was made due to his objections at raising the prices for petroleum.
Al-Ulum had threatened to resign on 19 December to protest a decision by the transitional cabinet to triple the cost of fuel, according to RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq. He told a news conference the same day that the fuel hike, which has been criticized in the local media, would adversely affect Iraq's neediest citizens.
Chalabi did not immediately comment after reports of his appointment emerged.
Security problems have almost completely halted Iraqi oil production in recent days, with severe shortages reported in many parts of the country, including the capital Baghdad.