Iraqi president Saleh names ex-governor as new PM-designate

Baghdad, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- Iraq’s President Barham Saleh on Tuesday named former Najaf province governor Adnan al-Zurfi as the new prime minister-designate in a second attempt to resolve the country’s months-long political deadlock, state-run Iraqiya television reported.

Al-Zurfi is the second to be tasked with forming a new government after Adel Abdel Mahdi resigned in November amid pressure from anti-government protests that have gripped Iraq for months.

Former prime minister-designate Mohamed Tawfik al-Allawi stepped down earlier this month after the Iraqi government failed twice to hold a vote of confidence for his proposed cabinet line-up due to wrangling among political rivals.

Al-Zurfi’s appointment came a day after a 15-day constitutional deadline set to select a new premier expired.

The Wafaa bloc head is now required to form a cabinet and get approval from the parliament within 30 days, according to the constitution.

Al-Zurfi, who was born in 1966 and holds a law degree, founded his party in 2004 with the aim of shedding Iraq of all foreign influence, including Iran, after the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein during the 2003 US-led invasion.

He served as governor of the southern province of Najaf for 6 years until 2015.

Iraq is facing one of the worst political deadlocks in its recent history, while also suffering from the novel coronavirus outbreak that has left 11 people dead and 154 confirmed infections so far.

In a bid to limit the spread of the infectious disease that has been described a pandemic by the World Health Organization, Iraqi authorities have taken precautionary measures, including imposing a curfew in several provinces and temporarily suspending certain flights.

Massive street demonstrations have erupted in Iraq since early October, with protesters demanding the resignation of the government, the dissolution of parliament and an overhaul of the country’s political system that has been in place since the US-led invasion.

More than 550 people, mainly protesters, have been killed and tens of thousands wounded in violence since the rallies started in Iraq, according to rights groups. EFE-EPA


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