Iraqi President Barham Salih has named Mustafa Al Kadhimi as prime minister-designate on Thursday, the third person tapped to lead the country in less than three months.
Al Kadhimi is seen as a political independent PM, who will have to gain support from the powerful sectarian parties that dominate the country’s legislature to approve a cabinet within a month.
The nomination comes as the country struggles to contain a the COVID-19 outbreak. The country currently recorded over 1,202 cases and 69 deaths.
Al Kadhimi, the head of Iraq’s National Intelligence Service, has been rumoured to be among the prime ministerial contenders since December following the incumbent’s resignation. He has kept a low profile since taking office at the secret service in June 2016 and is known to have good relations with both the US and regional powers.
“I am honored and privileged to be tasked with forming Iraq’s next government. I will work tirelessly to present Iraqis with a programme and cabinet that will work to serve them, protect their rights and take Iraq towards a prosperous future,” Al Kadhimi said on Twitter.
Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned under pressure from anti-government protests in November, still heads the government as caretaker prime minister.
Zurfi said that he was pulling out, citing “internal and external reasons” for his decision.
“My decision not to proceed with my nomination is to preserve Iraq and its greatest interests,” Zurfi added.