Shiite leaders Sunday proposed an alternative list of candidates for the security ministries to present to the full parliament. But Sunni Arab politicians supported Araji's candidacy and said that Shiite opposition to the former officer stemmed from a desire to hand the Interior Ministry to a partisan appointee.
"A person shouldn't be rejected unless there are real reasons for this rejection.... It shouldn't be an excuse to bring their own people for these positions," Sunni negotiator Samarrai said.
Shiite parliament member Haider Abadi said that disagreements between Shiite political parties and their component paramilitary groups were creating challenges for Maliki.
"I think there are now political tensions between the militia wings and the political wings of these groups," Abadi said.
Shiite politicians gave varying timelines for a final decision on security ministry candidates.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," said she was optimistic Maliki would complete his Cabinet postings soon.
"And when they get it right -- and they will get it right -- everybody will forget how long it took them," she said. "What will matter is that they have the very strongest ... defense and interior ministries."
Maliki and his two deputies have been temporarily heading the three security ministries since he named the rest of his Cabinet on May 20.
\o7Times staff writers Caesar Ahmed and Saif Hameed and special correspondent Ali Windawi in Kirkuk contributed to this report, along with special correspondents in Baghdad, Baqubah and Al Anbar province.