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Iraqi Lawmakers Reject Abadi's Interior, Defense Ministers

Iraqi lawmakers have rejected Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s nominees to fill the critical defense and interior minister posts.

The vote on September 16 sets back the creation of a new Iraqi government that is meant to bolster Baghdad’s battle against Islamic State militants and alleviate sectarian tensions by bringing Shi’a, Sunnis, and Kurdish politicians together in the same cabinet.

Abadi had put forward Sunni lawmaker Jabar al-Jabbari as his candidate for defense minister, and Riyad Gharib -- a Shi'ite lawmaker with the State of Law bloc -- as his pick for interior minister.

But neither nominee won backing of a simple majority in the vote needed to be confirmed to the posts.

The vote for the foreign minister’s post was 131 to 108 against Jabbari.

For the interior minister’s post, parliament voted 118 to 117 against Gharib.

Neither Jabbari nor Gharib are allowed to be nominees again when the next parliamentary session is scheduled for September 18.

Ahead of the September 16 vote, lawmakers Hussain al-Maliki and Muhammad Saadun told the AP that Ghabib’s nomination was met with some contention, mostly from the Shi’ite Badr Brigade.

Lawmakers approved the majority of Abadi’s cabinet on September 8 when it officially voted him to be the country’s next prime minister.

That vote brought a formal end to the eight-year rule of Nuri al-Maliki.

But Abadi requested a delay in naming defense and interior minister nominees because lawmakers had not agreed on the proposed candidates.

The United States and other countries have been pushing for a more representative government that can ease anger among Sunnis, who said they felt marginalized by Maliki's administration.

That helped fuel the dramatic advances by Islamic State militants across much of northern and western Iraq since June because the extremist group received support from some alienated Sunni tribal militias.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP