İrem UZUN -TDO- President Barham Salih has nominated head of intelligence Mustafa al-Kadhimi as Iraq's new prime minister-designate, the politically fragmented nation's third choice this year. The nomination on Thursday came moments after predecessor Adnan al-Zurfi ended his bid to form a government. Zurfi cited “internal and external reasons” for the move. He reportedly faced opposition from Shia factions with close ties to Iran. The upheaval threatened a leadership vacuum amid a severe economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the announcement, Al-Kadhimi said on Twitter: “I am honored and privileged to be tasked with forming Iraq’s next government. I will work tirelessly to present Iraqis with a program and a cabinet that will work to serve them, protect their rights and take Iraq towards a prosperous future”.
Before the coronavirus outbreak began in Iraq last month, people were taking to the streets of the capital, Baghdad, and many southern cities to express their anger at endemic corruption, high unemployment, dire public services and foreign interference in the oil-rich country. More than 500 protesters were shot dead by security forces and unidentified gunmen during five months of unrest. Thousands of others were injured. The protesters’ demands included sweeping away Iraq’s political system, which allocates positions to political parties based on ethnic and sectarian identity, encouraging patronage and corruption.
According to state media, Al-Kadhimi’s nomination ceremony was held in the presence of Iraq’s leading political figures, in contrast to the ceremonies of the two previous candidates, who have both since resigned from their posts. Al-Kadhimi has been rumored to be among prime ministerial contenders since December, following the previous incumbent, Adil Abdul Mahdi’s resignation. The new PM-designate now has 30 days to form a government and present it to parliament for approval, as per the constitution.