BAGHDAD: Iraq’s newly-elected President Abdul Latif Rashid pledged on Monday on taking office to throw his weight behind efforts to rapidly form a strong new government.
“The Iraqi people expect a new government to be formed rapidly, and that it be efficient and united,” Rashid said on his inauguration at the presidential palace in Baghdad.
Rashid, 78, elected last Thursday to the largely ceremonial post reserved for Iraq’s Kurdish minority, swiftly named Mohammed Shia al Sudani as prime minister-designate.
Sudani’s task now is to form a new government that would end a year of political gridlock in the war-scarred nation since general elections were held in October 2021.
But the movement of firebrand Moqtada Sadr, Sudani’s rival in Iraq’s majority camp, had on Saturday announced its refusal to join a Sudani-led government, igniting fears of renewed delays that are common in Iraq’s multi-confessional politics.
Under the Iraqi constitution, the prime minister-designate has 30 days to form a government, a deadline that has often been missed.
“I will do everything I can to bring political forces closer and sponsor a dialogue,” Rashid said, also vowing to work toward “solid and balanced relations with neighbouring countries and the international community”.
The stakes are high for the next cabinet, with a colossal $87 billion in revenues from oil exports locked up in the central bank’s coffers.
The money can help rebuild infrastructure but it can only be spent after lawmakers approve a state budget presented by the new government.
Meanwhile, earlier, Iraqi outgoing Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi had appointed Hayam Nemat as acting finance minister after accepting Ihsan Abdul Jabbar’s resignation, the state news agency said.
It added Nemat will fill the position until a new government is formed. Iraq’s parliament had last week elected Kurdish politician Abdul Latif Rashid as president, who immediately named Mohammed Shia al Sudani prime minister-designate, ending a year of deadlock after a national election in October last year. — Reuters