Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Zurfi Makes Progress in Forming New Iraq Govt.

Zurfi Makes Progress in Forming New Iraq Govt.

Saturday, 28 March, 2020 - 06:30
Workers in protective suits spray disinfectants near the gate of Shalamcha Border Crossing, after Iraq shut a border crossing to travelers between Iraq and Iran, Iraq March 8, 2020. (Reuters)
Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa

Iraq’s Prime Minister-designate Adnan al-Zurfi appears to be banking on his negotiation skills, powers of persuasion and connections with MPs in order to win parliament’s vote of confidence.

Zurfi was appointed by President Barham Salih after Shiite blocs failed in naming a consensus candidate. Since his appointment, Zurfi has been making progress in winning over these blocs in order to form a new cabinet and focus on the country’s pressing problems instead of political squabbling.

The Shiite Nasr coalition, headed by former PM Haidar al-Abadi, and the Sairoon coalition, headed by populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, had expressed their support for Zurfi. The Hikma movement headed by Ammar al-Hakim does not seem openly opposed to Zurfi. The bloc had only objected to the way he was appointed.

The only Shiite bloc to openly reject him is the Fateh bloc, headed by Hadi al-Ameri.

The State of Law coalition, headed by former PM Nouri al-Maliki, said it would back Zurfi if the majority does. Maliki tweeted: “Our position is firm in backing the candidate who enjoys the support of the majority and the national components”, meaning Sunni and Kurdish forces.

All signs indicate that the Sunni and Kurdish forces back Zurfi, which means the Fateh bloc will be the only open opponent of his designation.

Former PM Haidar al-Malla told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Zurfi will comfortably win parliament’s vote of confidence because those opposing him don’t have any convincing excuse to back up their stance.”

“He clearly enjoys support of the majority of parliament, most notably since he is seeking to achieve what everyone wants and that is confronting the drop in oil prices and the coronavirus outbreak. He has also pledged to hold early elections,” he remarked.

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