Kur­dish nom­i­nee for oil min­is­ter withdraws can­di­dacy

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

The nom­i­nee for the post of oil min­is­ter in Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi's pro­posed cab­i­net, Nizar Saleem Nu­man with­drew his can­di­dacy on Fri­day be­cause the main Kur­dish groups had not for­mally put him for­ward.

"Be­cause there is no po­lit­i­cal agree­ment over the form of the fu­ture gov­ern­ment, I with­draw my can­di­dacy for the min­istry of oil po­si­tion," he told a news con­fer­ence in Do­huk.

Nu­man, a 65-year-old petroleum ge­ol­o­gist, is part of the line up of tech­nocrats pre­sented on Thurs­day by Abadi who wants the new gov­ern­ment to fo­cus on fight­ing ram­pant graft in the OPEC na­tion. Par­lia­ment must vote on the reshuf­fle in the next 10 days.

Though Nu­man did not elab­o­rate on his de­ci­sion to pull out, out­go­ing fi­nance min­is­ter Hoshi­yar Ze­bari, who is also a Kurd, said Abadi's lineup lacked the for­mal ap­proval of the Kur­dish groups.

"The Kur­dish al­liance has one po­si­tion: we are for the re­spect of the Con­sti­tu­tion and we won't al­low the Kurds' rep­re­sen­ta­tives be im­posed on us," Ze­bari told Reuters in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

"Any fu­ture rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Kurds has to be just and fair," added Ze­bari, who be­longs to the Kur­dis­tan Demo­cratic Party, one of the largest group in the Kur­dish al­liance coali­tion.

Nu­man is the dean of the col­lege of plan­ning at the Univer­sity of Duhok in the Kur­dish re­gion and spent three decades at the Univer­sity of Mo­sul, the largest city in north­ern Iraq, now un­der con­trol of Is­lamic State mil­i­tants.

Abadi pre­sented his choices to the par­lia­ment, where they could meet re­sis­tance from politi­cians who pre­fer the sys­tem of po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age that has helped many of them ac­quire power and wealth.

"They were cho­sen on the ba­sis of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, com­pe­tence, in­tegrity, and lead­er­ship abil­ity," Abadi said of the pro­posed can­di­dates, one of whom is a de­scen­dant of Iraq's de­posed king.

In an­nounc­ing the sweep­ing change, Abadi said he is re­duc­ing the num­ber of cab­i­net min­is­ters to 16 from 21. The only two min­is­ters who were not re­placed were the de­fense and in­te­rior min­is­ters, "given the hard sit­u­a­tion" they face in wag­ing a new of­fen­sive against the Is­lamic State mil­i­tant group to re­cap­ture the north­ern city of Mo­sul, he said.

The an­nounce­ment prompted in­flu­en­tial Iraqi cleric Muq­tada al-Sadr to end a two-week sit-in by his fol­low­ers in Bagh­dad's Green Zone, where they had been de­mand­ing the re­place­ment of po­lit­i­cal cronies in the cab­i­net with tech­nocrats.

Sadr praised Abadi's "brave step" and urged law­mak­ers to quickly vote on the new lineup. He warned leg­is­la­tors that they would face street protests if they at­tempt to block the gov­ern­ment over­haul.

Abadi's move de­liv­ers on his prom­ises to hire peo­ple and en­act sweep­ing mea­sures to fight cor- rup­tion that is per­va­sive in Iraq's gov­ern­ment. Iraq ranks among the low­est coun­tries world­wide in mea­sures of gov­ern­ment in­tegrity.

"Most of [the nom­i­nees] have aca­demic cre­den­tials, but they all have ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing in a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion, man­ag­ing or ad­min­is­trat­ing," Sa­jad Jiyad, an Iraqi po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst said.

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