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Dhaka Tribune

Iraq gets a new government after a year of deadlock

Lawmakers have finally given the go-ahead to form a government after months of bitter infighting

Update : 28 Oct 2022, 05:00 PM

The Iraqi parliament gave its approval to a new 21-member cabinet headed by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on Thursday.

Infighting between different Shia factions following last year's inconclusive vote left the parliament in a political deadlock.

"Our ministerial team will shoulder the responsibility at this critical period, in which the world is witnessing tremendous political and economic changes and conflicts," the new prime minister said after the vote.

Who is al-Sudani?

The 52-year-old prime minister is from the pro-Iran Coordination Framework parliamentary bloc which is currently the largest following the departure of lawmakers from the opposing Shia bloc under the orders of populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sudani is taking over from Mustafa al-Kadhimi who was serving as an interim prime minister after widespread anti-government protests shook the country and triggered early elections.

The political deadlock since then has done little to quell public anger over what many see as widespread and rampant corruption.

"The epidemic of corruption that has affected all aspects of life is more deadly than the Covid-19 pandemic and has been the cause of many economic problems, weakening the state's authority, increasing poverty, unemployment, and poor public services," al-Sudani said in parliament.

What challenges is the new Iraqi prime minister facing?

Iraq has suffered years of conflict and mismanagement. The recent political paralysis has further added to its woes, leaving the country without a budget even oil income brings in much-needed revenues.

The lack of jobs and public services that triggered the anti-government protests have only become worse.

Opposition from Sadr and his followers adds further challenges. The cleric was able to bring thousands of his supporters out onto the street in an attempt to pressure the parliament.

When that failed to work, they stormed the building and occupied it several times.

His popularity, especially in the working-class neighborhoods known as Sadr City, and his opposition to al-Sudani's close ally and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, have triggered fears he may continue to disrupt Iraq's fragile political system.

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