Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Acting Prime Minister of Iraq, speaks during a ceremony in Baghdad on October 23, 2019. Photo: Khaled Al-Musli - Reuters.[/ltr]
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Acting Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi announced on Monday that he had stepped down from most of his duties and called for early elections, one day after Prime Minister-designate Muhammad Allawi withdrew his candidacy for the job.
Abdul-Mahdi's decision exacerbated the power vacuum in Iraq and further complicated the country's efforts to deal with widespread unrest, the re-emergence of the Islamic State, and the outbreak of the Corona virus.
Allawi withdrew his candidacy for office on Sunday, accusing political parties of obstructing his mission.
Analysts fear that the Islamic State may exploit this political paralysis in Iraq, whose leadership has been unable to agree on a government after protests that began months ago against the ruling elite. The search for an alternative is underway, but proposing a name for a candidate with institutional support will result in more problems.
The protesters say the ruling elite is corrupt and subject to Iran, and they even rejected Allawi, vowing on Monday to oppose any alternative from the parties nominated.
A protester in the Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, who said his name was Muammar, said he hoped the president would appoint an acceptable candidate that could be approved by everyone on the Iraqi street.
Allawi was the man appointed to get Iraq out of the crisis. He was supposed to replace Abdul Mahdi, who was toppled by the protests, but he resigned after most of the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish MPs did not agree to his government.
On Monday, Abdul-Mahdi said that he would resort to (voluntary absence) as prime minister and would not perform most of his official duties and would assign a deputy prime minister or a minister to chair cabinet meetings and handle daily matters.
According to the constitution, President Barham Salih will also become the acting prime minister.
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