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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Chaotic Iraqi parliament session delays final cabinet picks, again

The session has been postponed until later in the week

The Iraqi parliament votes on the new Iraqi government, headed by Adel Abdul Mahdi, October 24, 2018 in Baghdad. AFP 
The Iraqi parliament votes on the new Iraqi government, headed by Adel Abdul Mahdi, October 24, 2018 in Baghdad. AFP 

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was again unable to confirm the final members of his cabinet on Tuesday when a parliament session in which MPs were set to hold a vote descended into a shouting match.

The meeting was eventually postponed until later in the week after initially being paused while officials tried to restore order and ensure sufficient turnout to hold the vote. Mr Abdul Mahdi is attempting to confirm the ministers of defence, interior, justice and immigration, among others.

The parliament's deputy speaker, Hassan Al Kaabi, said early on Tuesday that Mr Abdul Mahdi had, overnight, submitted the names of eight candidates who were already rejected on an October session when parliament approved other Cabinet members.

Mr Al Kaabi warned that further delays could have a negative impact on the security situation in Iraq.

Last month, parliamentarians confirmed 14 out of the 22 posts that Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi initially presented. Yet, eight ministers remain vacant.

In a letter to lawmakers ahead of the postponed session, Mr Abdul Mahdi said he can submit other names within two days if his proposals were rejected.

Mr Abdul Mahdi was appointed in early October to form a ‘technocratic’ cabinet but political jockeying has intensified in recent weeks as competing regional patrons vie for influence.

While Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr has called for a quick formation of government, a growing rivalry between two powerful factions within the sect has delayed formation. The country has now gone six months since an election that was aimed at steering the country towards recovery from years of war.

Mr Al Sadr, a populist cleric, is now in a standoff with Iranian-backed militia leader Hadi Al Amiri despite having something of a tacit alliance in October when they picked a president and approved the batch of cabinet ministers.

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