Iraqi president says he would rather quit than name PM rejected by protesters

Iraqi President Barham Saleh he was ready to submit his resignation to parliament because the constitution does not give him the right to reject nominees for the premiership. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 December 2019

Iraqi president says he would rather quit than name PM rejected by protesters

  • The Bina bloc had nominated Basra Governor Asaad Al-Edani to be the next PM
  • But Salih said in a statement that appointing Edani would not placate protesters demanding an independent PM with no party affiliation

BAGHDAD: Iraqi President Barham Salih refused on Thursday to designate the nominee of an Iran-backed parliamentary bloc for prime minister, saying he would rather resign than appoint someone to the position who would be rejected by protesters.
The Bina bloc, led by Iran-backed militia leader Hadi Al-Amiri, had nominated Basra Governor Asaad Al-Edani to be the next prime minister.
But Salih said in a statement that appointing Edani would not placate protesters demanding an independent prime minister with no party affiliation or help calm the unrest that has rocked the country.
He said that because the constitution does not give him the right to reject nominees for the premiership, he was ready to quit.
"Out of my desire to stop blood and maintain peace, and with due respect to Asaad Al-Edani, I refuse to nominate him," Salih said. "Therefore I put my willingness to resign the post of president to members of parliament so that they decide as representatives of the people what they see fit."
Mass protests have gripped Iraq since Oct. 1 and the protesters, most of them young, are demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and keeping most Iraqis in poverty. More than 450 people have been killed.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned last month as the protests continued, but he has remained in office in a caretaker capacity.
Sources in Salih's office said the president left Baghdad on Thursday for his hometown of Sulaimaniya in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq and that he would deliver a televised speech later. 


Palestinian cyclists say attacked by Israeli settlers after trail app led them astray

Updated 22 July 2020

Palestinian cyclists say attacked by Israeli settlers after trail app led them astray

  • Komoot led them east toward a rocky path near the Israeli settlement of Shilo

RAMALLAH: A group of Palestinian cyclists say they were attacked by Israelis in the occupied West Bank after a popular trail app landed them on a remote path dotted with Jewish settlements.
Avid cyclist Amer Kurdi set out on Saturday with his brother and three others on what was supposed to be an 80-km (50-mile) ride, using the cycling, hiking, and mountain biking app Komoot to chart a path north from the Palestinian village of Birzeit.
The West Bank, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, is scattered with Israeli settlements which its 3 million Palestinians mostly cannot enter, as well as checkpoints and military bases that Israel says it needs for its security.
Over an hour into their ride, Kurdi said Komoot led them east toward a rocky path near the Israeli settlement of Shilo. He said a group of Hebrew-speaking men, whom the cyclists later took to be Israeli settlers, approached and asked where they were from.
Kurdi, 30, replied that they were from the Palestinian city of Ramallah. Soon after, the men — Kurdi estimates there were five or six — started throwing stones at them, using T-shirts to hide their faces, Kurdi and his brother, Samer, said.
“The others managed to run away, but I tripped and fell,” Samer, 28, said. “When I got up, a settler was behind me, and he started beating me with a metal rod.”
Photos the cyclists took after the incident, which they reported to Israel’s police, show Samer’s legs and arms bruised and bloodied.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said they are investigating.
Palestinians complain that navigation apps fail to grasp the West Bank’s complexity.
Asked for comment, Komoot said it regretted the incident but that its service is not specifically optimized for route planning “through areas of political unrest.”
Amer Kurdi says the incident will not keep him from cycling.
“I’ll wear a camera. I’ll be more careful when using apps,” he said.
“But we won’t stop. We will stand up for our right to bike.”