Not as happy as he looks. Iraqi President Barham Salih smiles during an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on January 25 (Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Iraq’s Salih Threatens to Choose New PM If Lawmakers Can’t

Iraqi President Barham Salih says he will choose a prime minister-designate himself if the country’s lawmakers, entrusted by the constitution with making this choice, cannot come to an agreement and do so by February 1. Adel Abdel-Mahdi, currently the caretaker prime minister, resigned in late November over anti-government unrest that has rocked Iraq since early October. Close to 500 people have been killed in skirmishes with security forces and pro-Iran militias while protesting against government corruption and undue influence in the country’s affairs by Tehran. The two main parties representing Iraq’s majority Shi’ite population – Islah, led by Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and Bina, a party that is said to take its orders from Iran – have been bickering over candidates since Abdel-Mahdi’s resignation. Salih declared on Wednesday that if the two could not settle on an agreed candidate, he would carry out his “constitutional prerogatives” and “designate the person I find more acceptable to the public and parliament.”

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