Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 August 2020

Iraq's new Prime Minister-designate says Cabinet is ready for approval

Mustafa Al Kadhimi says he will put national dialogue at the top of his agenda

Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Al Kadhimi addresses the Iraqi people in a televised speech from Baghdad, on April 9, 2020. AFP.
Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Al Kadhimi addresses the Iraqi people in a televised speech from Baghdad, on April 9, 2020. AFP.

In a bid to end months of political deadlock, Mustafa Al Kadhimi, Iraq’s prime minister-designate, said late on Tuesday that his Cabinet line-up is ready for Parliament’s approval.

Mr Al Kadhimi, a former intelligence chief, was selected by President Barham Salih last week to lead the next government after two previous nominees failed to win MPs' backing.

He has less than a month to submit his administration to legislators.

“I’m negotiating with political blocs to get their approval as soon as possible so that I can start working on addressing pressing priorities,” Mr Al Kadhimi said in Baghdad.

"The most important standard I have set is integrity and efficiency; I will negotiate with all political blocs on these terms,” he said.

The newly nominated official faces the task of pulling the country out of a global pandemic, an economic and political crisis, balancing relations with regional and international states and holding early elections.

Mr Al Kadhimi said his main priority would be to tackle Iraq’s economic crisis following a sharp decline in oil prices.

“This crisis requires us to take firm and strong measures in order to confront it. We must also contain the repercussions of Covid-19 and hold elections as soon as possible,” he said.

National dialogue will be at the top of his priorities, he said.

“We’ve missed the chance to conduct serious dialogue that could establish a national vision and build state institutions,” he said.

Mr Al Kadhimi stressed that Iraq must create a “national project that crosses ethnic and sectarian” differences.

The Iraqi official said he does not have a “magic wand” to solve problems inherited from the previous government but stressed the need for unity.

“Everyone knows that I was not elected to this position but I have a responsibility, given by the political blocs, to solve the threats and challenges,” he said.

“I can say that I am a prime minister of crisis,” he said

He vowed to keep Iraq away from regional conflicts, especially as tensions between the US and Iran are felt in the country.

“Iraq is not an arena for settling scores,” he said.

The US killing of top Iranian general Qassem Suleimani escalated tensions between Tehran and Washington, especially as Iraq became a ground for tit-for-tat attacks.

Washington said last week that it would hold talks with its allies in Baghdad to review their military and economic relations.

The dialogue would be held in June and was expected to be led by David Hale, a State Department diplomat.

It would be based on the future of US troops stationed in the country after they faced a series of attacks by Iranian-backed armed factions.

Mr Al Kadhimi said that his government would also hold talks with regional states to enhance their interests.

Updated: April 15, 2020 04:43 PM

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