Iraq: Former Communications Minister Allawi Named New Premier Amid Mass Protests

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Iraqi President Barham Salih appointed Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as the new Prime Minister, State TV reported. Allawi is the former communications minister.

Written By Bhakti Hargunani | Mumbai | Updated On:
Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi

Iraqi President Barham Salih appointed Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as the new Prime Minister on Saturday, State TV reported. Mohammed Tawfiq is the former communications minister of Iraq. The announcement came as there were mass protests and rejection by protestors. The decision was made after a discussion for 11 hours, post which a consensus was reached.

The other political parties of the nation failed to provide a candidate as the Prime Minister in the last two months ever since former PM Adel Abdul-Mahdi resigned in November amid mass protests. 

READ | Iraq protesters keep up anti-government rallies despite violence

Allawi has to form a govt within a month

The new Prime Minister reportedly has to now run the country until early elections can be held. He also has to form a government within a month. Allawi posted a video on his Twitter on Saturday in which he is heard saying that Saleh has named him as the new Premier. 

Addressing the camera, Allawi said, "After the President appointed me to form a new government a short while ago, I wanted to talk to you first. I will ask you to keep up with the protests because if you are not with me, I won't be able to do anything."

The new premier was also quoted by State TV saying that he would resign if any political bloc sought to impose candidates for different ministries. 

READ | Iraq: At least 10 killed, 138 injured in two days of violent protests

Violent anti-govt protests in Baghdad

Baghdad has been gripped by violent anti-government protests for almost four months now. The uprising began on October 1, when thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to decry rampant government corruption, poor public services and a scarcity of jobs. The protestors have demanded freedom from corruption and more importantly, snap elections. 

The uprising in Iraq is effectively its worst crisis since the military defeat of the Islamic State in 2017. Iraq is primarily ruled by an Iran-backed Shia elite, which controls the nation that is facing tremendous opposition from a Shiíte population. The former PM Mahdi who faced increasing pressure from the ruling elites and the protestors resigned late last year bringing Baghdad to a political standstill. 

To end the crisis, President Salih gave the political blocs until February 1, to come up with a replacement for Mahdi or he would name his own candidate. 

READ | Iraq's speaker calls Iranian attack 'violation of Iraqi sovereignty'

Iran and US trying to settle disputes in Iraq

If anti-government protests weren't enough, the nation was further thrown into more trouble after Iran General Qassem Soleimani's killing by the US in a drone strike on January 3rd. Iran replied to the killing with further missile strikes to airbases hosting US troops. Both Iran and the US have used Iraq as their proxy base which has pushed the nation into an all-out conflict zone. 

READ | Missile attacks on US military, coalition forces could threaten all-out war: Iraq PM

(with inputs from agencies) 

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