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Iraq’s president appoints new PM-designate to break months of deadlock 

March 17, 2020 at 1:43 pm

Iraqi President Barham Saleh in Paris, France on 25 February 2019 [Mustafa Yalçın/Anadolu Agency]

Iraq’s President Barham Salih tosday designated Adnan Al-Zurfi as prime minister tasked with forming a government within 30 days, in an attempt to overcome months of political deadlock that was made worse following the resignation of PM-designate Mohammed Allawi earlier this month.

Al-Zurfi, a former governor of the holy Shia city of Najaf, will have 30 days to form his cabinet which he must then put to a vote of confidence in Iraq’s fractious parliament. The 54-year-old heads the Nasr parliamentary grouping and was a former official of the US-run authorities that took over Iraq after the 2003 US invasion that deposed former dictator Saddam Hussein.

Al-Zurfi will hope to succeed where Allawi failed. The former PM-designate announced the withdrawal of his candidacy via Twitter, only hours after a second attempt at getting approval for his cabinet failed. He also found it difficult to win over protestors.

Iraq major Shia bloc: Talks to choose new PM have failed

In an address to the nation in the early hours of 2 March, Allawi accusing members of parliament and unnamed political parties of deliberately preventing the formation of a government, and prolonging anti-government protests which started in October.

Iraqi President Salih appointed Allawi after squabbling lawmakers from rival parties had failed for two months to decide on a successor to Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who resigned in November during mass unrest.

If Al-Zurfi is able to form a government and win the confidence of Iraqi parliament he will replace Abdul-Mahdi who was the caretaker prime minister. He quit in December following widespread mass demonstrations against a government that protesters see as corrupt, failing to provide them with basic services, and beholden to powerful neighbouring Iran.