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Iraq prime minister faces calls to step down

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Iraq prime minister faces calls to step down

Post  GirlBye on Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:32 pm

Violent street protests and criticism from top cleric mar recovery hopes





Iraq’s western-backed prime minister Haider Al-Abadi is facing growing domestic discontent as veiled criticism from the country’s top Shia cleric and violent street protests threaten his attempts to form a new government. The strife is undermining hopes that elections held in May would mark a turning point and set Iraq on the road to recovery after decades of conflict.

In a rare intervention, the office of Ayatollah al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shia cleric, issued a statement urging politicians in power to not run again, a move interpreted as a call for Mr Abadi to abandon his efforts to remain prime minister. In the past week, the southern city of Basra has been rocked by violence, with 15 people reported killed in protests last week that culminated in the burning of government buildings and the Iranian consulate. 

While Mr Abadi has been praised for presiding over Iraq’s defeat of the Isis insurgency, many Iraqis are frustrated at a lack of progress on improving basic public services and curbing corruption. Mr Abadi is acting as caretaker prime minister until a government is formed, but he is aspiring to a second term in office. His Nasr bloc of lawmakers has been negotiating to form a coalition that would have enough seats to elect the prime minister. 

But he suffered a blow in the wake of the Basra protests when Sairoon, the party of populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, withdrew its support, scuppering an Abadi-led political alliance announced at the beginning of this month. With Mr Abadi in a weakened position, analysts and political officials say there remains no clear favourite for Iraq’s top job. The prime minister has won the support of western powers since 2014 by presenting himself as an uncontroversial technocrat whose lack of domestic enemies could help him to unify a deeply divided country. 

Mr Abadi visited Basra on Monday only to be condemned in a blistering sermon from Mr Sistani’s representative in the city. “Here comes the prime minister to Basra today, after he had starved it, made it thirsty, and robbed it,” said Sheikh Mohammed Falakh. Ranj Alaaldin, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Doha, said the message to Mr Abadi from Mr Sistani was clear: “Your government has failed and the buck stops with you”. Mr Abadi once enjoyed Mr Sistani’s support, which was crucial because he rose from relative obscurity to the prime minister’s office in 2014 despite a lack of a popular support base.



https://www.ft.com/content/44c977cc-b5c7-11e8-b3ef-799c8613f4a1


So! in theory it makes sense. However is Sistani a Maliki proponent, or is he his own man? If this viewpoint is only for the good of Iraq, I'm intrigued......but cautious.
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