Iraqi president nominates Mustafa al-Kadhimi to form government as Adnan al-Zurfi steps down

Iraqi President Barham Salih on Thursday assigned Mustafa al-Kadhimi to form the Iraqi government, replacing Prime Minister-designate Adnan al-Zurfi following an announcement he would step down from the task.
author_image Hiwa Shilani

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi President Barham Salih on Thursday assigned Mustafa al-Kadhimi to form the Iraqi government, replacing Prime Minister-designate Adnan al-Zurfi following an announcement he would step down from the task.

“Kadhimi has now been assigned by the president, in the presence of leaders of political blocs and officials, and a statement will be issued shortly,” a source from the presidential office confirmed.

Meanwhile, on Thursday morning, Zurfi announced that he was stepping down from forming the Iraqi transitional government, giving way to Iraq’s Intelligence Chief Kadhimi to form the ministerial portfolio.

Kadhimi, the director of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, would be replacing the resigned Prime Minister-designate Zurfi, the second to take on the challenge of receiving a parliamentary mandate after now-caretaker premier Adil Abdul Mahdi resigned in late November.

Zurfi’s failure to form the government came after Shia and Sunni forces, as well as the Kurdistan Region, welcomed Kadhimi’s nomination to form the next government.

On Wednesday, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani said he welcomed efforts by Iraq’s Shia parties to appoint Kadhimi as the country’s prime minister-designate and called for support from all sides to expedite the formation of a new government amid multiple national crises.

“With my mandate to lead the Iraqi government, I pledge before the honorable people of Iraq, to work to form a government that puts the aspirations and demands of Iraqis at the top of its priorities, safeguards the sovereignty of the country, preserves rights, works to solve crises, and pushes the economy forward,” Kadhimi wrote on Twitter following his nomination.

Abdul Mahdi’s resignation in November came after days of unprecedented violence, largely carried out by Iraqi security forces and Shia militia members against mostly peaceful anti-government protesters. Following months of political jockeying, some Shia parties picked Mohamed Tawfiq Allawi to form a new cabinet in early February.

Allawi was unable to garner enough support to pass a parliamentary vote of confidence, largely because Kurdish, Sunni, and some Shia lawmakers rejected him over his methods of picking “independent” ministers for his cabinet. The politician rescinded his candidacy in early March as a constitutionally mandated deadline passed.

Nearly two weeks later, Iraqi President Barham Salih personally nominated Zurfi to form a new cabinet as partisan disputes continued, despite strong objections to the move by pro-Iran politicians who see the former Najaf governor as a close US ally. Tehran-aligned factions also denounced Salih’s move as unconstitutional.

The coronavirus pandemic that is crippling governments worldwide, an ongoing protest movement that continues to demand systematic change in the national political system, potential economic repercussions of falling oil prices, and an uptick in attacks by remnants of the so-called Islamic State are among a slew of domestic, regional, and international issues that the country faces. 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany