Iraqi leader out, protests continue
Who will be next to fill PM seat not clear
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s parliament on Sunday formally accepted the prime minister’s resignation, but the path to replacing Adil Abdul-Mahdi was clouded with legal questions that one lawmaker described as a “black hole in the constitution,” which does not clearly spell out the next step.
Meanwhile, anti-government demonstrations went on in the capital, and one protester was shot dead. Demonstrators closed roads, including those leading to a major commodities port in southern Iraq. A special judicial committee was formed to investigate demonstrator deaths.
Parliament approved the resignation without a vote, according to four lawmakers in attendance. Lawmakers acted on the legal opinion of the federal supreme court because existing laws do not provide clear procedures.
“According to the federal court’s interpretation, there is no need to vote,” lawmaker Sarkwat Shamsedine said during the session. Lawmaker Mohamed al-Daraji made the reference to a black hole in the law.
Following the approval, Parliament Speaker Mohamed a-Halbousi asked President Barham Salih to nominate a new prime minister. The constitution requires parliament’s largest bloc to name a candidate for the premiership within 15 days. Then the prime minister-designate has 30 days to form a government.
Officials and experts warned of a potential political crisis because the question of which coalition constitutes the largest bloc is unresolved.
Abdul-Mahdi’s nomination as prime minister was the product of a provisional alliance between parliament’s two main blocs — Sairoon, led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and Fatah, which includes leaders associated with the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units headed by Hadi al-Amiri.
In the May 2018 election, neither coalition won a commanding plurality that would have enabled it to name the premier alone. To avoid political crisis, Sairoon and Fatah forged a precarious union.
Also Sunday, unknown attackers in Najaf torched the Iranian consulate, which was empty. It was the second time the building had been set ablaze in recent days, following an earlier fire started by protesters who stormed the structure.
At least 400 people have been killed since Oct. 1, when thousands took to the streets in mass protests in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite south.
In Baghdad, protesters gathered in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the movement, to reiterate calls for a complete overhaul of the sectarian political system. Hundreds of university students skipped classes to attend.
MAKING A POINT: Anti-government protesters gather in Tahrir Square during ongoing protests in Baghdad, Iraq, on Sunday. Iraq’s parliament approved the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi amid ongoing violence and anti-government demonstrations in the capital.