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Iraq: Premiership Candidate Rejected by Iran-Backed Blocs

Iraq: Premiership Candidate Rejected by Iran-Backed Blocs

Friday, 20 March, 2020 - 10:00
A protester hits a poster with a defaced picture of Iraq's prime minister-designate, Adnan al-Zurfi, in Baghdad (AP)

Iraqi Prime Minister-designate, and former Najaf governor, Adnan al-Zurfi has not made any progress yet after a number of prominent Shiite blocs, as well as Iran-backed armed factions, rejected his candidacy.

Zurfi began informal consultations with many political parties, as his main concern now is to open channels of dialogue through mediators with the parties that refuse him as a candidate, some of which are close to Iran, according to an Iraqi politician close to the matter.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that Zurfi, member of Nasr Coalition, was surprised by this rejection even though the deputies who attended his assignment ceremony belonged to different Shiite blocs, some members of the parties that now say they are against him.

Asked whether Zurfi will work on mobilizing the forces supporting him such as Shiite blocs, namely Saeroon, or Sunnis and the Kurds, the politician said that it is necessary for Zurfi to determine his position with the Shiite component before agreeing on anything with Kurds or Sunnis.

He explained that Zurfi's efforts will be futile if he doesn't agree with Shiite blocs, warning that the country can’t afford that on top of all the crises, including the drop in oil prices and the Coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, political sources revealed that there are efforts to replace Zurfi with former candidate Naeem al-Suhail, whom President Barham Saleh would have nominated had it not been for last-minute disagreements between Shiite leaders.

Local Iraqi media outlets reported that a meeting was held Thursday night to discuss supporting the re-nomination of Suhail.

Nasr coalition, led by Haider al-Abadi, affirmed that Zurfi was Saleh’s candidate after obtaining approval from many Shiite forces and representatives of various blocs. However, the State of Law coalition, led by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, announced it had a list of 170 members of the parliament who refuse Zurfi as the premier.

State of Law spokesman, Bahaaeddine al-Nouri stated that political blocs in al-Benaa alliance and Wisdom bloc held a meeting two days ago announcing their official refusal of Zurfi.

Al-Benaa coalition, the largest parliamentary bloc, demanded that the President disclose the mechanism that led to naming Zurfi, noting that the President has created a political crisis in the country rather than being the protector of the constitution and law.

Nouri pointed out that Benaa bloc, with over 170 MPs out of 329, refuses to assign Zurfi and will not participate in his next government if it wins the confidence vote of the Iraqi parliament.

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