The Iraqi Parliament elected on Tuesday the veteran Kurdish politician Barham Salih, 58, as the new president, a step towards forming a new government following the last parliamentary election.
Once elected, Salih tasked Adel Abdul Mahdi to form the new Iraqi government, succeeding Haider Al-Abadi, who failed in forming a political alliance to stay in power. Abdul Mahdi is a Shiite politician who previously served as vice president, and oil and finance minister.
Under the Iraqi Constitution, the prime minister must be a Shiite Arab, the speaker of parliament a Sunni Arab, and the president a Kurd.
Abdul Mahdi, 76, has 30 days to form his government before it will be reviewed by the parliament for approval. He was named for the post by the two main Shiite blocs in parliament, one headed by cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr and former PM Haider Al-Abadi, and the other one backed by Iran is headed by Hadi Al-Amry. In May, the Al-Sadr bloc ‘Saeroon,’ won 54 parliamentary seats, out of total 392 seats
Al-Sadr is known for opposing the interventions by the United States and Iran in Iraqi affairs. The Shiite cleric was not named as the prime minister because he did not run the election, but the victory of his bloc gave him more power to negotiate for selecting the new prime minister.
The results showed that the Al-Fatih bloc, led by Al-Amry, who has close ties with Iran, won 47 seats, while the Victory Alliance led by former PM Al-Abadi, who led the battle against the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq, came third, with 42 seats.
In the past few weeks, Basra governorate witnessed unrest after mass protests in the city over political corruption, and the deterioration of public services. Basra, a city of more than 2 million people, produces about 70% of Iraq’s total oil production.