Iraqi leader out, protests con­tinue

Who will be next to fill PM seat not clear

Boston Herald - - News -

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.

AP

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.

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