http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-1589157,00.html Chalabi to head Oil Ministry in Iraq's new government By Jenny Booth, Times Online Iraq formed its first democratically elected Government in 50 years today after the country's Parliament approved a 36-strong Cabinet of ministers. The National Assembly voted by an overwhelming majority -- 180 of the 185 present -- to approve the list of names put forward by Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Prime Minister designate, who comes from a religious Shia party. A few cheers broke out when the speaker of Parliament announced the result. The Cabinet will consist of 31 ministers, four deputy Prime Ministers and the Prime Minister himself. Several of the appointments are however provisional, suggesting that the bitter disagreements which created a 12-week power struggle to divide the most influential posts between Iraq's different cultural and political groupings are not yet resolved. Mr al-Jaafari himself will act as Defence Minister -- a position that was supposed to go to a Sunni. In a twist that is likely to raise a few eyebrows in Washington, Iraq's great political survivor Ahmad Chalabi -- first the darling and then the scapegoat of the Bush Administration -- will take the hotly-contested post of Oil Minister on an interim basis. Mr Chalabi, who is a Shia Muslim, is also one of the four deputy Prime Ministers. The electricity, human rights and industry ministers are also temporary appointments. Rousch Nouri Shaways, a Kurdish leader, will combine the job of acting electricity minister with being a deputy Prime Minister. Both the oil and electricity ministries were the subject of lengthy infighting within Mr al-Jaafari's own party, the United Iraqi Alliance. The key roles at the head of the interior ministry and the finance ministry will be taken by Shias, with Bayan Jabbor at the interior and Ali Abdul Amir Allawi at finance. Officials said that the full Cabinet consisted of 17 Shias, eight Kurds, six Sunnis and one Christian. Six of them are said to be women, in charge of seven portfolios. Shias represent 60 per cent of the population, Kurds 20 per cent and Sunnis between 15 and 20 per cent. Mr al-Jaafari said from the steps of his office: "The Iraqis will find that their Government has religious, ethnic, political and geographic variety, in addition to the participation of women. Now that the process has started, we will spare no effort to bring back a smile to children's faces." Iyad Allawi, the outgoing interim Prime Minister, is due to conduct a handover to Mr al-Jaafari within days. Mr Allawi's secular Iraqi List party, which holds 40 Assembly seats, has been left out of the Government altogether -- a sign that Mr al-Jaafari has given up the unequal struggle to balance Mr Allawi's demands with those of Sunni leaders who say they could open negotiations with the militants. Much of the optimism created by the success of multi-party elections in Iraq on January 30 has dissipated in the three months of backroom horse-trading between religious and secular parties representing the different ethnic groups. The insurgency, which died down during and after the ballot, has since gained new strength and viciousness. A woman MP was shot in the head nine times yesterday as she answered the door at her brother's home. Lameah Abed Khadouri al-Sakri was the first of the 275-strong National Assembly to be murdered by the rebels, many of whom are Sunni extremists. Mr al-Jaafari has been coming under ever-increasing pressure from Washington to form a transitional Government, so that co-ordinated action can be planned to suppress the insurgents.