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,