Date :Thursday, October 4th, 2018 | Time : 17:16 |ID: 73164 | Print

New Iraqi government to safeguard unity and safety

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SHAFAQNABarham Salih Iraq’s new president has chosen veteran Shia politician Adel Abdul Mahdi as prime minister-designate to form a new government nearly five months after national elections were held.

Barham Salih, the Kurdish moderate politician, was elected president by parliament and sworn in on Tuesday. He then tapped Adel Abdul-Mahdi, 76, an independent Shiite politician and former vice president, to form the next government.

Both Salih and Abdul-Mahdi are longstanding members of the political class that has dominated Iraqi politics, AP mentioned.

The prime minister-designate – whose appointment must be approved by parliament – now has 30 days to form a cabinet. That cabinet also needs parliamentary approval.

Since Saddam Hussein was toppled in a 2003 US-led invasion, power has been shared among Iraq’s three largest ethnic-sectarian components. The prime minister has traditionally been a Shia Arab, the speaker of parliament a Sunni Arab and the president a Kurd.

Widely seen as a moderate, Salih was chosen on Tuesday after a dispute between the two main Kurdish parties delayed the vote, eventually forcing them to choose among 20 nominees.

Salih, 58, a veteran Kurdish politician, was part of an interim authority put in place by the United States following the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam.

He had served as deputy prime minister under Nouri al-Maliki from 2006 to 2009. He was also the prime minister of the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region from 2009 to 2012.

Last year, he broke away from PUK following the death of the party’s founder, Jalal Talabani, a former Iraqi president. Salih formed an opposition party, but returned to the PUK to be its nominee for president.

Abdul-Mahdi is an independent who previously served as vice president, oil minister and finance minister. He is not allied with either of the two Shiite-led blocs that each claim to have the most support after May’s elections, in which no party won an outright majority. He was previously a member of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, a large Shiite party with close ties to Iran, Time reported.

Abdul Mahdi, 76, is a trained economist who left Iraq in 1969 for exile in France, where he worked for think tanks and edited magazines in French and Arabic.

He is the son of a respected Shia cleric who was a minister in the era of Iraq’s monarchy, overthrown in 1958.

For senior PUK official Khaled Shouani, it was important to put forward a “moderate” candidate for president who would be “accepted by all” and push to repair ties between Baghdad and the Kurdish region.

The new president’s tendency to push for consensus would also satisfy both the United States and the PUK’s traditional ally Iran, the two main international powers in Iraq, Shouani said, France24 pointed.

According to Al Jazeera, Tuesday’s poll follows a weekend parliamentary election in the Kurdish autonomous region, mired in economic crisis and still in shock from the fallout of the referendum which sparked a punishing response from Baghdad.

Legislators claim the move will address the widespread civic unrest in Iraq, and ease standoffs across the country that have brought governance to a standstill, nearly five months after the national election.

Rivalry between Tehran and Washington has played out in Iraq over the 15 years since the US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein. However, it has become particularly acute during the Trump administration, with its intense focus on countering Iranian activities in the Arab world.

Successive Iraqi governments have failed to address enduring issues, which were largely eclipsed over the past four years as the country’s security forces battled large-scale insurgency by Islamic State (ISIS).

Protests about services have rumbled through the southern city of Basra throughout the summer and had led to growing acrimony among residents who claim that an unaccountable political class has prospered while their living standards have plummeted.

Tensions with the Kurds of northern Iraq also remain high, with Kurdish leaders insisting Baghdad needs to honour earlier agreements about revenue sharing from oil proceeds, as well as restore the semi autonomy which was diminished after the Kurds launched a failed push to control the northern oil city of Kirkuk, The Guardian reported.

“I promise to safeguard Iraq’s unity and safety,” Salih said as he was sworn in, affirming his commitment to the country’s unity a year after Kurds overwhelmingly backed a failed independence bid.

He was the preferred candidate of most lawmakers because of his perceived softer stance on the thorny issue of Kurdish independence, Gulf News mentioned.

Read more from shafaqna:

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