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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Pompeo urges formation of a moderate Iraqi government

New adminstration must be based on constitution says Washington 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. AFP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. AFP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Iraqi politicians to form a "moderate" government, as talks drag on 13 weeks after parliamentary elections.

Leading the talks is populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, whose bloc took the largest number of seats in May's elections. As Mr Al Sadr and others like him rose, many long-time political figures lost votes to candidates promising reforms.

During a phone call with Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi and his Kurdish counterpart Nechirvan Barzani on Tuesday evening, Mr Pompeo urged a timely cabinet formation.

"Secretary Pompeo emphasized the importance of forming a moderate Iraqi government, pursuant to the constitutional timeline, that is responsive to the expectations of the Iraqi people,” state department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Tuesday.

Complaints of fraud and vote rigging in May's election results prompted a nationwide recount the results of which were released Friday and showed almost no deviation from the initial tally.

The results are now expected to be ratified by the Supreme Court after which President Fuad Masum has three months to convene parliament to elect a prime minister, president and speaker and then to form a cabinet.

The initial poll gave a bloc organised by Mr Al Sadr the largest share, with 54 seats in the 329-seat parliament. It was followed by an Iran-backed bloc – made up of Shiite militia leaders – which won 47 seats, and Mr Al Abadi's alliance, with 42 seats.

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Read more:

Iraq forms committee to investigate corruption amid ongoing unrest

Moqtada Al Sadr retains victory in Iraq election recount

Iraq completes election recount

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The Secretary of State also commended the successful joint operations by Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga against ISIS, Ms Nauret said, adding that Mr Pompeo “underscored the continuing US support for a strong, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq as outlined in our bilateral Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq.”

Mr Al Abadi has been hailed for leading a military campaign aimed at combating ISIS from much of the territory it held in Iraq after the group took over main cities in 2014.

In 2015, the insurgents controlled large swaths of territory stretching from Aleppo in Syria to Baghdad and had around 33 thousand fighters in its rank, according to US military and intelligence officials.

The US military reported last summer to have killed between 60 thousand to 70 thousand ISIS fighters since US-led strikes began four years ago, Gen Raymond Thomas, head of US special operations command, said.

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