Tuesday, October 16, 2018 05:12:41 PM
AP, Baghdad :
A veteran Kurdish politician assumed office on Wednesday as Iraq's new president after tapping an independent Shiite politician for the post of prime minister, ending nearly five months of political deadlock.
Barham Salih, 58, who previously served as Iraq's planning minister and the prime minister of the self-ruled Kurdish region, was elected president by parliament and sworn in on Tuesday. He then tapped Adel Abdul-Mahdi, 76, an independent Shiite politician and former vice president, to form the next government.
Under an unofficial agreement dating back to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Iraq's presidency - a largely ceremonial role - is held by a Kurd, while the prime minister is Shiite and the parliament speaker is Sunni. Both Salih and Abdul-Mahdi are longstanding members of the political class that has dominated Iraqi politics since then.
On Wednesday, State TV broadcast a formal handover ceremony at the presidential palace in Baghdad's Green Zone, where Salih was saluted by an honor guard and received by former President Fuad Masum.
Abdul-Mahdi emerged as a compromise candidate after two Shiite-led blocs each claimed to have majority support in parliament. He had strong backing from Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose followers won the most seats in the May elections and who formed a bloc with the current prime minister, Haider al-Abadi.
The other bloc, which is dominated by politicians and militia leaders close to Iran, initially rejected Abdul-Mahdi but then agreed to support him after Sunni and Kurdish parties rallied to his side, according to a Shiite politician who took part in the discussions. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief media.
The politician said Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, had made it clear through mediators that the job of prime minister should not go to someone who had held the post before and had urged consensus.
"The opinion yesterday was to have Abdul-Mahdi tasked quickly in order not to delay the process any further," the politician said.
Abdul-Mahdi, an economist by training who comes from a prominent Shiite tribe based in southern Iraq, spent several years in exile in France, where he worked for think tanks and edited magazines in French and Arabic.
He joined Iraq's Community Party in the 1970s, but later switched to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an exiled opposition group established in neighboring Iran. He remained with SCIRI, which emerged as a powerful religious party after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, until the party split last year, when he became an independent.
After the invasion, he served as vice president, finance minister and oil minister.
He has 30 days to submit his cabinet to parliament for approval.
The largely ceremonial role of president has been reserved for the Kurds since Iraq's first multi-party elections in 2005, two years after the US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.
Under a tacit accord between the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the PUK would hold the federal presidency and the KDP the post of Iraqi Kurdistan's president.
But the Iraqi Kurdish presidency has been left vacant since KDP leader Massud Barzani's mandate ended following the September 2017 referendum that he championed - setting up a showdown in Baghdad.
The vote for an Iraqi president was scheduled for Monday before being postponed due to the lack of a quorum.
In a first round of polling Tuesday, neither Saleh nor Hussein won the two-thirds vote necessary to win outright, forcing a second round.
The independence vote last year saw more than 92 percent of Kurds back secession, but the federal government rejected the poll as "illegal".
Baghdad then imposed economic penalties and sent federal troops to push Kurdish forces out of oil fields in the disputed Kirkuk province that were vital for the autonomous region's economy.
Barzani had backed for president Fuad Hussein, his 72-year-old former chief of staff and veteran of the opposition to Saddam.
But the post went to Saleh, a 58-year-old moderate who has served both as Iraqi deputy premier and Kurdish prime minister.
He was part of an interim authority put in place by the United States following the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam.
He later became deputy prime minister under Nuri al-Maliki then returned to the Kurdish regional capital Arbil in 2009 to become head of the Kurdistan government.
For senior PUK official Khaled Shouani, it was important to put forward a "moderate" candidate for president who would be "accepted by all" and push to repair ties between Baghdad and the Kurdish region.
The new president's tendency to push for consensus would also satisfy both the United States and the PUK's traditional ally Iran, the two main international powers in Iraq, Shouani said.
More than four months after legislative elections, Iraq's parliament has chosen a speaker of the house but the post of prime minister has yet to be decided.
QUESTION paper leaks have become epidemic before all public exams, university admission tests, and job recruitment tests during the current administration allegedly by some students and unscrupulous teachers along with office staffs. Detectives in recent times busted dens of criminals involved in the question leakage but the unholy nexus between ...
AP, Frisco :The U.S. women's national team breezed through CONCACAF qualifying to secure a spot in the World Cup next year in France.The Americans still have to face Canada."Just because we qualified for the World Cup doesn't mean we're going to take our foot off the gas," Alex Morgan said. ...
"Fearless" young batting stars Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant will be India's special weapons during their upcoming tour of Australia, according to captain Virat Kohli.Hailing the roles of 18-year-old Shaw and 21-year-old Pant in the two-Test victory over the West Indies, Kohli said they had been given free rein to ...
Reuters, Washington :Saudi Arabia on Sunday warned against threats to punish it over last week's disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as European leaders piled on pressure and two more US executives scrapped plans to attend a Saudi investor conference.Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post columnist critical of Riyadh's policies, ...
AFP, London :Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are expecting a baby in the spring of 2019, they announced on Monday as they began a Pacific tour."The Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that the Duchess of Sussex is ...
Bollywood stars Ranveer Singh and Sara Ali Khan, who are in Switzerland to shoot for their upcoming action-drama Simmba, look all geared up for the weekend and their recent picture is a proof! Taking to her Instagram, Sara shared snaps from the set in which she can be seen posing ...
The Editors' Council will form a human chain in front of the National Press Club today (Monday) to press for amendments to nine sections of the Digital Security Act. Earlier, the Council postponed the same program following an assurance from three ministers including the information minister Hasanul Haq Inu that ...
PTI, Washington :US President Donald Trump has said that he wants people with merit, who can help, to enter the country and not sneak inside the border illegally."I'm very tough at the borders. We've been very tough at the borders. People have to come into our country legally, not illegally. ...
Reuters, Tehran :The United States is seeking "regime change" in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, adding that the current US administration is the most hostile that the Islamic Republic has faced in its four decades.Tensions have increased between Iran and America after US President Donald Trump withdrew from ...
Entertainment Report :After returning country popular TV actress and model Nadia Ahmed has acted in a new telefilm titled Debor, which is based on a life-oriented story. Written by Barrister Mostaq Ahmed, the telefilm is directed by Sanjay Barua. The shooting of the telefilm has already been done in the ...
MYSTERY shrouds the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi when Turkish authorities didn't revoke their claim that he was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul amid strong denials by the Saudi government. The Turkish newspaper "Sabah" yesterday reported that Khashoggi may have recorded his own death by his Apple Watch. ...