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Iraq’s President Picks Intelligence Chief to Lead New Government

Iraqi intelligence chief Mustafa Al-Kadhimi was picked to form a government, as the country sought to end months of damaging political deadlock with the slump in oil prices and coronavirus outbreak adding to a list of urgent challenges.

President Barham Salih turned to Al-Kadhimi after major Shiite parties blocked his previous choice for prime minister — former Najaf governor Adnan Al-Zurfi — from forming a cabinet, claiming he had acted unconstitutionally. Al-Kadhimi has 30 days to submit a proposed ministerial team to lawmakers for approval.

Al-Kadhimi has been acting head of the intelligence service since 2016. After 2003, he was in charge of a commission tasked with documenting state crimes during Saddam Hussein’s rule, and later became a journalist.

Iraq’s latest crisis began when anti-government protests erupted in October as people finally lost patience with years of rampant corruption and poor services, forcing the prime minister to resign the following month. Since then, a series of candidates for premier have failed to win majority support in a parliament fractured along sectarian lines.

Demonstrations have continued, with more than 600 people now killed by security forces. Iraq also faces a massive reconstruction effort from its long war with Islamic State militants at a time when prices of its key export — oil — have fallen dramatically amid a confrontation between major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Iraqi authorities have reported 1,202 cases of the coronavirus and 69 deaths, and imposed curfew measures in mid-March to try and control the outbreak.

Source: Bloomberg, April 9, 2020,



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