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Iraq’s Saleh tasks PM-designate Kadhimi with forming new government

A handout picture released by the media office of the Iraqi Presidency office on April 9, 2020 shows President Barham Saleh (L) swearing in intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi as new prime minister-designate. (Photo via AFP)

Iraqi President Barham Saleh has officially tasked prime minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi with forming a government after the intelligence chief received the endorsement of the majority of the country's top political figures.

The announcement came shortly after predecessor Adnan al-Zurfi announced he was withdrawing his bid in a statement on Thursday after failed to secure enough support to form a government.

The nomination ceremony was attended by distinguished political figures and dignitaries, indicating widespread support for the 53-year-old Kadhimi, which was unprecedented as neither of the two previous prime minister-designates this year had enjoyed such backing.

“I will work tirelessly to present Iraqis with a program and cabinet that will work to serve them, protect their rights and take Iraq towards a prosperous future,” Kadhimi wrote on his official Twitter page.

Kadhimi has 30 days to form his cabinet, which he must then put to a vote of confidence in Iraq's parliament. 

He would replace caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who stepped down last November following demonstrations against corruption, staggering youth unemployment and poor public services, which erupted in the capital Baghdad and then quickly spread to other cities.

UNAMI welcomes Kadhimis nomination, stresses unified leadership

Meanwhile, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has welcomed the nomination of Kadhimi as the country's new prime minister-designate.

“We appreciate and value the tireless work done by Adnan al-Zurfi in the past weeks, and we welcome the appointment of Mustafa al-Kadhimi to form a new government,” the mission said in a statement.

It added, “The scale of the challenges facing Iraq today requires a unified leadership operating with sheer determination.”

KRG supports Kadhimis appointment as new Iraqi PM-designate

Separately, the prime minister of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region has expressed support for nomination of Kadhimi as Iraq's new prime minister-designate.

“Masrour Barzani made a phone call to Iraqi prime minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi, during which, Barzani voiced his willingness to work with Kadhimi towards resolving all outstanding issues between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal government [in Baghdad] in accordance with the Constitution,” Barzani's office said in a statement.

Additionally, a leading and highly influential Iraqi parliamentary faction says the new government should be independent and supported by all political currents, emphasizing that Kadhimi enjoys the support of Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions.

Hassan al-Kaabi, the head of the Badr Organization's parliamentary bloc, said the PM-designate should form a government that would revive its ultimate authority, and pave the ground for early elections.

Jassim al-Bakhati, a member of the parliamentary faction of the National Wisdom Movement led by the Iraqi cleric Ammar al-Hakim, also said the political process in Iraq witnessed for the first time a great deal of harmony and contentment among the country's top political figures during the nomination ceremony.

“There are great challenges facing Kadhimi as regards public healthcare, economy and financial deficit. It requires the support of all political blocs for him to overcome such crises,” Bakhati pointed out.

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