After failing to reach quorum twice, PM-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, stepped down from his designation, resulting in Iraqi President Barham Salih, renewing his call for the political parties to select a new candidate for the position.
President Barham Salih started reaching out to Iraq’s political parties on Monday (March 2) in order to select a new prime ministerial candidate after Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi’s attempt to form a government collapsed on Sunday.
In a statement, Salih thanked Allawi for his efforts and called on legislators to “work hard to reach a national agreement on an alternative prime minister, in order to form a capable government to address its tasks In light of the challenges that are facing Iraq.”
“The security, political, and economic crisis and health challenges facing Iraq, the [Middle East] region, and the world make it important to expedite the resolution of the interim government in order to protect the security and safety of citizens and move towards achieving the reform project,” the statement added.
Allawi withdrew his candidacy hours after the Council of Representatives failed for the second time in a week to approve his cabinet. Political objections from significant portions of all three ethno-sectarian blocs made it impossible for the Parliament to secure quorum, much less vote to approve his proposed cabinet.
In stepping aside, Allawi accused the political parties of obstructing him, deepening the domestic political crisis, and threatening an unprecedented power vacuum.
“I tried by all possible means to save Iraq from drifting into the unknown and to solve the current crisis, but during negotiations I faced many matters,” he said,
Over the past five months, Iraq has seen massive anti-government protests in Baghdad and the southern provinces, which forced out Adil Abdul Mahdi as prime minister, although he had lingered on in a caretaker capacity.
More than 500 mostly young and working class demonstrators have been killed during the protests and more than 17,000 others wounded in a sustained crackdown by the security forces and third party militias. Nevertheless, the protesters have been able to maintain some momentum, while the parties continue to grapple for direction in the legislature.
To mark the five month anniversary of the start of the protests and to express their rejection of Allawi, who protesters rejected because he had twice been a minister in previous governments, thousands of protesters filled Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, the main protest site in the capital, and other important sites across cities in the south.