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Mustafa Al Kadhimi chosen as Iraq’s new Prime Minister

Mustafa Kadhimi has become Iraq's first proper Prime Minister after Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned in November 2019 due to massive anti-government protests.

May 7, 2020 10:14 IST
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Mustafa Al Kadhimi has been chosen as Iraq’s new Prime Minister, ending months of political deadlock. Iraq’s Parliament voted on May 7, 2020 to chose Mustafa Kadhimi as the nation’s new prime minister.

Mustafa Kadhimi has become Iraq's first proper Prime Minister after Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned in November 2019 due to massive anti-government protests. Kadhimi is a former intelligence chief. 

The Iraqi Parlimanent also approved names of Kadhimi's 15 cabinet ministers, while 5 were rejected. Following the vote, Kadhimi tweeted saying that his cabinet will work to earn the trust and support of the Iraqi people. He urged all political leaders in the nation to come together around a national program to serve Iraq's interests.

Key Highlights 

The Iraq’s Parliament voted to approve Mustafa Al Kadhimi’s government after weeks of political crisis. The session was attended by over 250 parliamentary members. 

The parliament approved 15 ministers and rejected five ministers who had been chosen for the portfolio of trade, culture, agriculture, migration and justice. 

While Juma Anad, the land forces commander, was elected as the new Defence Minister of Iraq, the chief of staff for Iraq’s armed forces Othman Al Ghanmi was chosen as the new Interior Minister. Historian and politician, Ali Allawi, was chosen as the new Finance Minister.

Several parliamentarians from the oil-rich city of Basra boycotted the session, claiming that Al Kadhimi’s Cabinet “does not represent them”. They had reportedly requested to be given the Ministry of Oil and Transport but were turned down. Basra city reportedly contributes 95 per cent of government revenues.

Some Kurdish politicians also boycotted the session, stating that Kadhimi does not understand Kurdish politics.

Al Kadhimi, a former intelligence chief, does not belong to any political party. He was nominated for the post of Prime Minister in early April by Iraq’s President Barham Salih. He is the third nominee to try and form government in the nation in the last 10 weeks.

The parliament session held on May 6 was the first one since the country imposed a nationwide curfew to combat the rapid spread of the coronavirus. The session was held while taking care of all necessary health protocols in the wake of the pandemic.

All politicians were urged to wear masks and gloves and their temperature was checked while entering the building. The seating arrangement also followed the social distancing protocols with a seat space between each politician. 

Way ahead for Iraq

After his nomination, Al Kadhimi promised that his government will work to provide a solution and not add to the crisis. He has pledged to hold transparent and early elections, to restrict access to weapons and to curb corruption.

He said that his government will be a response to the social, political and economic crisis faced by the country. Kadhimi’s government will have to tackle an economic crisis brought on by crashing of oil prices amid coping with the coronavirus pandemic.

Al Kadhimi also pledged that his government will fight corruption by promoting integration among institutions to provide them with the powers to implement necessary laws. His government is also expected to begin auditing of financial records.

His other key agendas included allowing weapons only under the government’s control and returning the people displaced by Iraq's conflicts to their homes. He plans to end foreign interference and not allow any country to violate Iraq’s national sovereignty. His government will also check the power of armed militias operating outside the state.

According to President Barham Salih, the process of forming a government must be completed as soon as possible to meet Iraq's health, economic and security challenges.

Background 

The new government formation in Iraq has taken also six months, with many nominated candidates being blocked from going ahead. Even Kadhimi’s election came after intense political turmoil as the Pro-Iranian parliamentary blocs reversed their initial no objection position to his appointment and reversed their support almost two weeks ago. 

Mustafa Al Kadhimi reportedly has strong ties with the United States and is known for his practical approach. He will become Iraq's first real prime minister after the resignation of former PM Adel Abdul Mahdi due to persistent anti-government protests. Mahdi had become a caretaker Prime Minister post his resignation. 

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