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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Iraqi protesters rejected the alleged nomination of Mohammad Al Sudani to head the new government as political leaders attempt to strike a deal to end a political stalemate in Baghdad.
Outgoing Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who had been in office just over a year, officially resigned last month and requested politicians to quickly agree on a successor.
His resignation followed nationwide protests driven by anger over political corruption and Iran’s influence on Iraqi politics as well as the government’s violent response to the protesters demands.
At least 400 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured in the unrest, according to the United Nations.
Mr Abdul Mahdi and his advisers are still serving in the caretaker government until President Barham Salih calls on the parliament’s largest bloc to name the new prime minister and a majority then approves his ministers.
On Sunday evening, Mr Salih called for Iraq's parliamentary blocs to meet at Baghdad's Peace Palace to discuss a choice for prime minister.
A list of names have been floating around of potential nominees for the position - one of them is Mohammad Al Sudani.
Mr Al Sudani was a former member of the country’s Islamic Dawa party.
The country’s two largest Iran-affiliated political parties, the State of Law coalition, led by former Iraqi PM Nouri Al Maliki, and Hadi Al Ameri’s Fatih coalition, put him forward as a candidate last week.
“We don’t want Al Sudani, or anyone affiliated to the previous and current political ruling. We want someone new who can govern and provide us with good opportunities,” Ahmed Hussein, a 22 year-old law student from Baghdad, told The National.
“Our protests were not about the removal of the prime minister, they are much bigger than that. We are fed up of the same system, same faces, we need changes and we must have it now,” Mr Hussein said.
Nomination of a new prime minister alone, even if competent, will not solve the crisis, an Iraqi official told The National.
“As much as Mohammed Al Sudani may be capable, the head of the upcoming government must be accepted by the Iraqi people,” the official said.
“A small and strong caretaker government should be commissioned with carrying out free elections under an independent commission and fair law,” the official said.
The developments come as demonstrators supporting a powerful Iran-backed militia group in Iraq poured into a central Baghdad plaza on Saturday, some burning American flags to protest recent US sanctions against key leaders.
Washington has pointed the finger at Iranian proxy groups such as Asaib Ahl A Haq for a recent spate of rocket attacks against its military bases in Iraq.
Four Katyusha rockets hit a military base near Baghdad International Airport on December 9, that wounded several Iraqi soldiers.
A week earlier five rockets landed inside the Ain Al Asad airbase, a complex in the western Anbar desert that hosts US forces, without causing any casualties and little damage.
The group has also been accused of being behind deadly attacks on anti-government protesters.
Asaib Ahl Al Haq affiliated lawmakers hold at least 13 seats in Iraq's Parliament.
US and Israeli flags, as well as cardboard cutouts of US President Donald Trump were burnt in Baghdad’s Firdous Square, a central plaza that is close to where anti-government demonstrators are taking place.
Updated: December 15, 2019 07:09 PM
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