By Ibrahim Saleh
BAGHDAD (AA) – Firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Thursday that his Sairoon coalition would refrain from nominating candidates for Iraq’s incoming government.
“We have begun taking steps toward [political] reform,” al-Sadr tweeted. “We have already managed to secure the independence of the premiership.”
According to al-Sadr, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has been tasked with drawing up a new government “far from partisan pressures or sectarian or ethnic quotas”.
On Tuesday, newly-elected President Barham Salih instructed Abdul-Mahdi — an independent Shia politician — to form a new government after the latter was officially appointed to the premiership.
Abdul-Mahdi now has 30 days in which to draw up a new cabinet, which must then be presented to parliament for approval.
“Either promised reforms will be carried out gradually or the people will rise up,” al-Sadr warned, referring to ongoing protests in Iraq’s Shia-majority southern and central provinces.
Abdul-Mahdi was chosen for the premiership by Iraq’s leading political powers, including al-Sadr’s Sairoon coalition, which came in first in Iraq’s May 12 parliamentary poll, winning 54 out of 329 assembly seats.
Following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, a political quota system was set up by Paul Bremer, who at the time served as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (Iraq’s U.S.-led post-invasion interim government).
Ostensibly aimed at ensuring fair representation among Iraq’s main ethno-religious segments, the system reserves the post of president for a Kurd; that of prime minister for a Shia Muslim; and that of parliament speaker for a Sunni Muslim.