Iraq finally has a president and a prime minister, after a year of political deadlock

The end of a year of political crisis? Iraq finally has a president and a designated prime minister on Thursday, October 13, even if rocket attacks the same day in Baghdad illustrate the persistence of strong tensions.

The Parliament, which sits in the Green Zone in Baghdad, elected a new President of the Republic, opting for a compromise candidate, Abdel Latif Rachid, a 78-year-old former Kurdish minister versed in environmental issues.

In the aftermath, the head of state instructed Mohamed Chia al-Soudani to form a new government. The 52-year-old politician, several times minister and from – as tradition dictates – the majority Shiite community in Iraq, has 30 days to form his cabinet. Mohamed Chia al-Sudani est the candidate of the pro-Iran factions of the Coordination Framework, which dominate the Assembly and seek to accelerate the political calendar.

More than 30 dead at the end of August

Since the October 2021 legislative elections, the political barons had failed to agree on a new president, nor to appoint a Prime Minister. Between the lines, there are struggles for influence between the two Shiite poles vying for power: the pro-Iran factions of the Coordination Framework, and the unpredictable religious leader Moqtada Sadr. It remains to be seen what the reaction of the latter will be: the religious leader has been demanding in recent months a dissolution of Parliament and early legislative elections.

In July, a first candidacy of Mohamed Chia al-Soudani for the post of Prime Minister had set fire to the powder between the two camps. The showdown came to a head on August 29, when more than 30 Sadrist supporters were killed in clashes with the army and Hachd al-Shaabi forces, integrated with regular troops.

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