Votes on Kadhimi’s cabinet face further delays
Iraqi political parties have decided on five candidates to fill vacant positions in Iraq’s new governmental cabinet, but a formal vote will not take place for another month, according to Baghdad officials.
The Iraqi parliament approved Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government at an emergency session on May 7, after appointing over half of the ministers on his proposed cabinet list.
However, MPs refused five candidates who were nominated to hold ministerial posts.
Heads of the Ministries of Trade, Culture, Agriculture, Justice, and Migration and Displacement have now been decided upon by political parties, but have yet to be announced or formally elected, according to Fahad al-Jubouri, a member of the Shiite movement al-Hikma’s political bureau.
However, replacements for the Ministry of Oil and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have not been suggested.
“It was expected to fill the seats in Kadhimi’s cabinet before Eid, but this process has been postponed until further notice, and it is expected to be postponed for another month until an agreement is reached,” al-Jubouri said.
One day after Kadhimi was sworn in as Iraqi PM, he appointed himself and six ministers from his cabinet to temporarily fill the vacant ministerial posts in an official decree published by Iraqi state media on May 12.
According to the decree, Kadhimi ordered Education Minister Ali Hamid to act as interim trade minister, Higher Education and Technology Minister Nabil Kadhim to act as interim justice minister, and Transport Minister Nasir Hussein to act as interim migration and displacement minister.
The PM has also ordered Finance Minister Ali Allawi and Minister of Sports and Youth Adnan Darjal to take charge of the oil and culture ministries respectively.
Kadhimi is currently acting as interim Foreign Minister, and is slated to be replaced by a candidate from Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
The KDP is adamant on appointing former Iraqi finance minister Fuad Hussein to fill the vacancy. However, his candidacy has been rejected by some Shiite blocs.
KDP MP Dana Mohammed Jaza told Rudaw on Wednesday that Hussein is their “only candidate” for the position.
Iraqi MPs from Basra province have called on Kadhimi to appoint a candidate from the province to head the oil ministry. Iraqi MPs have provided Kadhimi with several names, but all been rejected in voting sessions – slowing the completion of Kadhimi’s cabinet.
“The delay in filling the remaining seats in Kadhimi’s cabinet is due to the disagreement on the candidates for the Foreign and Oil Ministries,” Ghaib al-Amiry, Sairoon coalition MP told Iraqi state media on Wednesday
Basra hosts Iraq’s main port and produces the biggest share of its oil, but the has no control over its revenues, which are sent to Baghdad. The province has witnessed several protests against the government for poor services and high rates of unemployment.
‘Disappointment’ in Tahrir
Tahrir Square has been witnessing anti-government protests since October 2019, which brought down former PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi.
Those who forced Iraq’s former cabinet to resign have told Rudaw they feel “disappointed and angry” with Kadhimi’s new cabinet, which they see as drawn from the same elite they have been protesting for months.
“The officials and political parties in Green Zone are still in charge and Kadhimi is yet to make a move,” Omar Gati’e, a protester and activist in Rudaw on Wednesday.
“Kadhimi’s cabinet is doing what Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s cabinet was doing, which is assassinating and kidnapping protesters,” said Ali, another protester.
Before the spread of COVID-19, Iraq had been rocked by months of nationwide unrest since October as overwhelmingly young crowds demanded jobs, services, and action against corruption.
When security forces and pro-Iran militias began attacking protesters, killing hundreds, activists began demanding an end to foreign interference in Iraqi affairs and called for the overthrow of the political elite.
At least 600 protesters and members of the security forces were killed and more than 18,000 injured over the months since the movement emerged in October, according to human rights monitor Amnesty International.
A report by the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) estimates 123 people went missing between October 1 to March 21. Of these, 98 have been found while 25 others remain unaccounted for.
In his first cabinet meeting on May 9, the new PM ordered the Supreme Judicial Council to release all protesters detained by the former government – a move welcomed by many, but yet to be implemented. Source