ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – After hints that Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was threatening to step down as parties continue to bicker over key ministerial posts in his cabinet, a Kurdish MP in Baghdad says the ultimatum is "not just words."
"Abdul-Mahdi's threat is, in part, [intended] to get the political factions to arrive at a deal to complete his cabinet," of which "eight ministries have not been voted on," said head of the Movement for Change (Gorran) bloc in parliament Hoshyar Abdullah to Kurdistan 24 on Saturday.
Late October, the Iraqi parliament gave its vote of confidence to 14 ministers, but candidates to lead eight other ministries, including the coveted posts of Interior and Defense, were not included in the ballot. MPs were due to elect the remainder, but this has so far been delayed.
The two key ministries in the head of the government's cabinet are disputed between Shia and Sunni factions within parliament, with parties of the former contending for the post of Interior and the latter, Defense. The positions have previously been occupied by members of the two religious sects, respectively.
Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has repeatedly said that the nominees must be independent, while the Iran-backed Fatih Alliance has reportedly demanded that the post must go to former national security advisor Falih al-Fayyadh, with whom they are closely allied. Sadr's coalition came first in the May national elections with 54 seats, followed by Hadi al-Amiri's Fatih Coalition with 48 seats.
For the post of Defense, Sunni factions al-Wataniya, which is in a coalition with Sadr, and the National Axis Alliance, allied with Amiri, have presented names.
The disputes have been ongoing for the three weeks since the initial vote and Abdul-Mahdi, in a recent press release, hinted at the possibility of resigning to avoid being "a partner in failure."
"Abdul-Mahdi's threats of resignation are serious; they are not just talk," Abdullah stated, adding, "He has done this in the past."
In 2016, Abdul-Mahdi resigned as Minister of Oil and handed over his duties to his deputy amid an "atmosphere of uncertainty and disarray dominating the government ministries ahead of a partial or complete cabinet change," he was reported as saying in a statement at the time.
Editing by John J. Catherine