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

Iraqi President Barham Salih arrives at the Elysee Palace for his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron (not seen) in Paris, France on 25 February 2019. [Mustafa Yalçın - Anadolu Agency]
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.

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