Iraq’s newly elected president has appointed a 76-year-old economist and veteran Shiite politician as the country’s new prime minister-designate, ending months of political uncertainty following elections in May.
Shortly after Iraqi lawmakers elected Kurdish politician Barham Salih as president on Tuesday, he appointed Adil Abd al-Mahdi as the country’s next prime minister.
The Iraqi president’s role is largely ceremonial, with the prime minister holding most powers. The appointments end months of political wrangling, following a disputed parliamentary election earlier this year.
The new prime minister had previously served as vice president, finance minister and oil minister under outgoing prime minister Haider al-Abadi.
Al-Mahdi now has 30 days to form a cabinet and present it to parliament for approval.
Under the power-sharing system installed after the 2003 US-led invasion, Iraq has kept a tradition of naming a Kurdish president, a Shiite prime minister and a Sunni speaker of parliament.
US vows to work with future PM
The US Ambassador to Iraq, Douglas Silliman, congratulated the newly appointed prime minister in a tweet, saying the US would “work with the future PM to help his government meet the needs and aspirations of all the people of Iraq.”
Iraq held its parliamentary election in May 2018, but it was marred by complaints about the alleged manipulation of the electronic voting system.
After months of political negotiations, lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of 58-year-old British-educated Salih becoming president.
His pick for prime minister will have a daunting task ahead – while Iraqis have celebrated the routing of ISIS fighters from major cities in the country’s north, they are also frustrated by the limited change they’ve seen in their daily lives.
Among their complaints are a dearth of job opportunities, a struggling economy and a crumbling infrastructure with frequent power cuts. They also lament poor government services and slow reconstruction in areas such as Tikrit, Falluja and Mosul, places that were ravaged in the fighting against ISIS.
Corruption, another major issue, is blamed by many Iraqis for their country’s failure to translate the wealth from its natural resources into a better life for its citizens.
CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali reported from Atlanta and Aqeel Najim reported from Baghdad. Sheena McKenzie wrote in London.