BAGHDAD: Iraq’s president named little-known former regional governor Adnan Al-Zurfi as prime minister-designate on Tuesday in another attempt to overcome months of unrest and deadlock.
Zurfi now has 30 days to form a government that must then survive a vote of confidence in Iraq’s deeply divided parliament.
He is the second man chosen to succeed Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in November amid mass anti-government protests. The next candidate, Mohammed Allawi, quit on March 1, accusing parties of obstructing him.
President Barham Salih named Zurfi only after larger rival Shiite political parties failed to agree on a candidate. Those same groups rounded on the new candidate, who is head of the small Nasr parliamentary group of former Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi.
“We hold the president fully responsible for the repercussions of these provocative steps,” said the Fatih alliance, which represents mostly Iran-backed Shiite militia leaders in parliament.
“He’s an American joker and we reject him,” said Hassan Salim, a member of parliament from Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, an Iranian-backed group that is designated as a terrorist organization.
Zurfi lived in the US as a refugee in the 1990s after fleeing the Saddam Hussein regime, and is seen as a comparatively secular figure. After Saddam’s overthrow, he was governor of Najaf.
Hours before his nomination, two rockets fell inside Basmaya military camp to the south of Baghdad, which houses US-led coalition troops, without causing any damage.