Country in Crisis Mode Finally Picks a Leader

In Iraq, a former spy chief is now prime minister
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 6, 2020 6:55 PM CDT
Country in Crisis Mode Finally Picks a Leader
In this Dec. 8, 2019 file photo, a protester rests by a mural with Arabic that reads, "I want my oil," in Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser, File)

Iraq's former spy chief was sworn in as prime minister by lawmakers early Thursday after weeks of tense political negotiations as the country faces a severe economic crisis spurred by plummeting oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, the AP reports. The majority of 255 legislators attending the session approved the government plan and the majority of Cabinet ministers proposed by Mustafa al-Kadhimi, officially inaugurating him as Iraq’s sixth premier since 2003 and ending five months of a leadership void. Legislators accepted 15 ministers and rejected five, among them the ministries of trade, justice, culture, agriculture, and migration.

The ministries of oil and foreign affairs also remain vacant pending further political negotiations. According to Iraq's constitution, a government can pass if over half of a proposed Cabinet is approved. Al-Kadhimi, who gave up the intelligence post when he became the prime minister-designate, assumes the premiership as Iraq faces unprecedented crises amid falling oil revenues that will likely prompt unpopular austerity measures, a rising daily tally of coronavirus cases, and expected US-Iraq talks. "This government came as a response to the social, economic and political crises our country is facing," al-Kadhimi said during the session, addressing lawmakers. "It is a government that will provide solutions, not add to the crises."

(More Iraq stories.)

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