İrem UZUN -TDO- Iraqi President Barham Salih has appointed Adnan al-Zurfi, the former Najaf governor under the U.S. occupation, as the country's new prime minister-designate in the latest bid to resolve a months-long political crisis.

Zurfi, who served as governor of the predominantly Shiite Najaf province during the U.S. occupation after the fall of Saddam Hussein, is head of the small Nasr parliamentary group of former prime minister Haidar al-Abadi. Lawmakers told Reuters that Salih had named Zurfi only after larger rival Shiite political parties failed to decide on a successor to Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in November during mass unrest in which hundreds of people died. Iraqis have been protesting for months against an elite they accuse of depriving them of basic services such as power supplies or decent hospitals despite the country's oil wealth. Zurfi, who lived in the United States as a refugee in the 1990s after fleeing Saddam, is seen as a comparatively secular figure in a country long dominated by sectarian parties. He now has to win the confidence of parliament for his new cabinet, a difficult task as major Iranian-backed groups objected to his nomination.

Al-Zurfi has 30 days to form his cabinet which he must then put to a vote of confidence in Iraq's fractious parliament. He would replace caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who quit in December following widespread mass demonstrations against a government that protesters see as corrupt and failing to provide them with economic opportunities and basic services.

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