After weeks of tense political negotiations as the country faces a severe economic crisis spurred by the Coronavirus pandemic, Iraq’s former spy chief was sworn in as the country’s next prime minister by lawmakers early Thursday.
Iraq’s parliament approved a majority of ministers presented by Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Wednesday, lawmakers said, ushering in a new government after months of deadlock.
The majority of 255 lawmakers attending the session approved the government plan and the majority of Cabinet ministers proposed by Mustafa al-Kadhimi, officially inaugurating him as Iraq’s premier and ending five months of a leadership void.
Al-Kadhimi, who gave up the intelligence post when he became the prime minister-designate, assumes the premiership as Iraq faces unprecedented crises amid falling oil revenues that will likely prompt unpopular austerity measures, a rising daily tally of Coronavirus cases, and pending U.S.-Iraq ties.
“This government came as a response to the social, economic and political crises our country is facing,” al-Kadhimi said during the session, addressing lawmakers. “It is a government that will provide solutions, not add to the crises.”
Kadhimi’s picks for interior, defense, finance, electricity and other key portfolios passed during a parliament vote on the cabinet, the lawmakers said. Several ministerial candidates were rejected, however, meaning Kadhimi will begin his term without a full government.
Former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who has been leading a caretaker government, resigned last year as anti-government protesters took to the streets in the thousands, demanding jobs and the departure of Iraq’s ruling elite.
They accuse the political class that took over after the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein of corruption that has driven the country into dysfunction and economic ruin.
The battle over government portfolios since Abdul Mahdi’s resignation in November prevented two previous nominees for prime minister from forming a cabinet.