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Iraq's new president taps Adel Abdul Mahdi to form government

After May elections, the Iraqi parliament finally elected a new president, Barham Salih, who chose the independent Adel Abdul Mahdi to try to form the next government.
Barham Salih, Iraq's newly elected president, walks with Iraq's new Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi at the parliament headquarters, in Baghdad, Iraq October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily - RC14461FCEC0

The battle inside and outside the Iraqi parliament was fierce and bitter, but by the evening of Oct. 2, Barham Salih had managed to pull off one of the biggest electoral feats in recent Iraqi history by putting his faith in Iraqi parliamentarians to elect a new president. That night, the overwhelming majority of parliament members, 219 out of 329 total, voted to install Salih, a Kurd who believes in the territorial integrity of Iraq and who has vowed to work for all Iraqis.

Since 2003, the Iraqi presidency has been reserved for a Kurd, the parliament speakership for a Sunni and the premiership for a Shiite. Although Salih’s election has generally been welcomed among Iraqis, including the Kurds, his victory marked an escalation in tense relations between Iraq's two dominant Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), already at odds over the governing of Iraqi Kurdistan and related socioeconomic issues.

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