Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari says the list for the proposed Cabinet will be submitted to Iraq's National Assembly for a vote later Thursday.
Speaking at a Baghdad news conference, Mr. al-Jaafari did not reveal any names for the new government, but indicated Iraq's major ethnic and religious groups are among those chosen, including the country's Sunni minority. The prime minister-designate also said several women have been picked to serve. President Jalal Talabani must sign off on the list before an assembly vote can be held.
If approved, the formation of a cabinet would mark a major milestone in Iraq's nascent democracy. Political factions had been unable to agree on the new government's composition since historic multiparty elections nearly three months ago.
Mr. al-Jaafari said there were good reasons for the delay.
"We took this long because we wanted to establish a strong government which can sort out all of the problems which this country is facing," the incoming prime minister said. "We know we are in a bad situation and that this is the first experiment in Iraq's political history. There are lot of groups here and that is why we gave it so much time. We held meetings right up until today to try and bring opinions closer together."
When the assembly meets, it will be missing one member. Suspected insurgents killed Iraqi lawmaker Lamia Abed Khadduri Wednesday, after storming her Baghdad-area home. A passerby told reporters he saw three assailants emerge from a vehicle.
"One of them [assailants] got out and fired on her [Khadduri], the other two went around to pick up the dead body," he said. "But [when] they saw a crowd had gathered, they got into the car and they all left."
Meanwhile, Romania appealed to kidnappers to extend the deadline for the threatened execution of three Romanian journalists seized in Iraq. The deadline expired Wednesday. The kidnappers have demanded that Romania withdraw 800 servicemen from Iraq, and have released a video of the hostages, sitting with their hands bound. The journalists were kidnapped late last month.
Wednesday, President Talabani met with Romania's ambassador to Iraq and expressed support for efforts to secure the hostages' release.