An Iranian-backed bloc in Iraq's parliament has proposed the governor of Basra province as the country's next prime minister, said officials aware of the situation. Basra is an oil-rich province in Iraq. The proposal by the bloc was promptly rejected by the Iraqi protestors who demanded an independent candidate to take over the government. The Fatah bloc, which includes leaders associated with the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units, supported by Iran, proposed Governor Asaad al-Eidani for premier.
According to the two officials who spoke on conditions of anonymity, President Barham Saleh received a memorandum from parliament which stated that the Iran-backed bloc is the largest in the house and therefore has the right to nominate the next premier.
Outgoing Higher Education Minister Qusay al-Suhail has also withdrawn his nomination for prime minister. Qusay-al-Suhail had been rejected by the protestors. Pressure from the demonstrations led Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to announce his resignation late last month. That was after Iraq's most powerful religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, withdrew support for Abdul-Mahdi's government.
The deadline to nominate a new prime minister has been missed twice due to disagreements on which is the largest bloc in the parliament following last year's elections.
There are currently two main blocs Sairoon, led by populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and Fatah, headed by Hadi al-Amiri. But the numbers in the blocs have continued to change since last year's elections, with an unknown number of lawmakers leaving some blocs and joining others. President Saleh sent the court's response to parliament, asking the legislature to say which is the largest bloc. In the southern city of Diwaniyah, an activist who was wounded last week in a bomb attack died of his wounds late Tuesday. Following the news of his death, protesters attacked some offices of Iran-backed political parties in the city.
(With inputs from AP)