(Photo credit: Reuters)
Late on 13 October, the Iraqi parliament named Kurdish politician Abdullatif Rashid as President of the Republic of Iraq, putting an end to 12 months of political deadlock and street chaos since last October’s ballots.
Following his election, Rashid immediately named the Coordination Framework (CF) nominee, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, as Prime Minister.
The CF is an ad-hoc group of Shia parties that came together earlier this year to confront the former biggest bloc in parliament: the Sadrist Movement, led by influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Sudani’s nomination to the premier post by the CF in late July led Sadrists to take over parliament and the federal supreme court, a situation that devolved into violent clashes and Sadr’s ninth lifetime retirement from political life.
Thursday’s successful parliamentary session came just hours after nine rockets landed around Baghdad’s Green Zone district, leaving at least 10 injured.
British-educated Rashid, 78, was the Iraqi minister of water resources from 2003-2010. He rose to prominence among the 40 candidates for president thanks to an initiative by the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masoud Barzani, to withdraw the candidacy of Rebar Ahmed and support Rashid.
Rashid received 162 votes, while his opponent, former president Barham Salih, received 99 votes. The position of president in Iraq is largely ceremonial and has been traditionally held by a Kurd.
Sudani, meanwhile, said in a tweet after being named prime minister: “I promise the Iraqi people that I will meet their expectations by presenting the cabinet formation as soon as possible, and that it will be a strong government capable of building the country, serving citizens, maintaining security and stability, and building balanced international relations.”
Sudani has 30 days to form a cabinet and present it to parliament for approval.
Despite a commanding victory at the polls last October, for over eight months the Sadrist Movement failed to form a “majority government” with their Kurdish and Sunni allies, eventually forfeiting all of their seats in parliament.
Since then, Sadrists had been fueling unrest and violence on the streets, demanding the dissolution of parliament and yet another round of anticipated elections.