Iraq president nominates third PM in ten weeks

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Iraq’s President Barham Saleh tapped intelligence chief Mustafa Al-Kadhimi as prime minister-designate on Thursday. — Courtesy photo

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s President Barham Saleh tapped intelligence chief Mustafa Al-Kadhimi as prime minister-designate on Thursday in a bid end a protracted deadlock after two previously PM picks failed to win the required support to form the government.

Al-Kademi, the 53-year-old head of Iraq’s National Intelligence Service, has long had close links with the United States but political sources say he has also improved ties with Washington’s foe, Tehran, in recent months.

Al-Kademi’s nomination was announced shortly after the previous designated premier Adnan Al-Zurfi withdrew his candidacy as he failed to secure enough support to form a government. Zurfi made his announcement in a statement on Thursday, news reports said.

“My withdrawal is to preserve the unity of Iraq,” he said, according to reports.

Al-Zurfi was named as Prime Minister-designate in mid-March, following the withdrawal of then Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi.

According to local media reports, Shiite political forces were unhappy with the nomination of Al-Zurfi as the PM-designate and they joined hands to block his attempts to form a new government.

Iraq has been struggling to replace a government that collapsed in the face of deadly protests ten weeks before.

Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned under pressure from anti-government protests in November, still heads the government as caretaker prime minister. Saleh’s first choice to replace him, Mohammed Allawi, withdrew on March 1 after four fruitless weeks trying to gain support. — Agencies


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