Iraq

Iraq’s caretaker PM to take ‘voluntary absence’

Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has said he will not conduct most of his official duties and will take a “voluntary absence” from the role, in a statement on Monday.

The statement clarified that Abdul Mahdi had decided not to quit as caretaker prime minister.

“The most dangerous thing that we currently face is the prospect of a constitutional and administrative vacuum,” Abdul Mahdi added.

The former PM said he would stop carrying out several official duties, including signing documents, meeting foreign dignitaries and chairing cabinet meetings.

Abdul Mahdi asked for a deputy prime minister or minister to chair cabinet meetings. Yet, according to the constitution the move puts President Barham Salih in charge as acting premier.

Abdul Mahdi added this is intended to pressurise parliament to finalise a new electoral legislation, dissolve itself and call early elections on 4 December.

The caretaker PM had threatened to leave the role in mid-February, saying he would quit his post as caretaker prime minister if no replacement had been approved by 2 March.

This comes days after the nominee for the position, Mohammed Allawi, withdrew his candidacy.

Designated as the next prime minister on 1 February, Allawi had a month to form a cabinet, as per the constitution. He withdrew after two attempts at gaining a vote of confidence for his government failed.

In the televised address announcing his withdrawal, Allawi accused members of parliament and political parties of deliberately preventing the formation of a government.

Allawi said some Kurdish and Sunni parties which deliberately avoided parliamentary sessions designated for confidence votes, showed they “were not serious about implementing reforms that they promised to the people”.

Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has said he will not conduct most of his official duties and will take a “voluntary absence” from the role, in a statement on Monday.

The statement clarified that Abdul Mahdi had decided not to quit as caretaker prime minister.

“The most dangerous thing that we currently face is the prospect of a constitutional and administrative vacuum,” Abdul Mahdi added.

The former PM said he would stop carrying out several official duties, including signing documents, meeting foreign dignitaries and chairing cabinet meetings.

Abdul Mahdi asked for a deputy prime minister or minister to chair cabinet meetings. Yet, according to the constitution the move puts President Barham Salih in charge as acting premier.

Abdul Mahdi added this is intended to pressurise parliament to finalise a new electoral legislation, dissolve itself and call early elections on 4 December.

The caretaker PM had threatened to leave the role in mid-February, saying he would quit his post as caretaker prime minister if no replacement had been approved by 2 March.

READ: Iraq denies involvement in Soleimani killing

This comes days after the nominee for the position, Mohammed Allawi, withdrew his candidacy.

Designated as the next prime minister on 1 February, Allawi had a month to form a cabinet, as per the constitution. He withdrew after two attempts at gaining a vote of confidence for his government failed.

In the televised address announcing his withdrawal, Allawi accused members of parliament and political parties of deliberately preventing the formation of a government.

Allawi said some Kurdish and Sunni parties which deliberately avoided parliamentary sessions designated for confidence votes, showed they “were not serious about implementing reforms that they promised to the people”.

President Salih said he would begin consultations and propose a new candidate for prime minister within the next 15 days.

Several names for the position circulated on Monday, including the governor of Basra province, Asaad Al-Eidani, who was previously touted before Allawi, but widely rejected by protesters.

The country’s political gridlock comes after five months of anti-government protests which caused at least 500 deaths and injured more than 30,000.

Protesters say the elite are corrupt and had rejected Allawi as a candidate for prime minister.

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