Iraq Pulse

Confidence vote first of many challenges ahead of Iraq's PM designate

Article Summary
Iraq's designated Prime Minister Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi will face off against multiple challenges as political disputes over nominations to his Cabinet have already formed.

Iraq's designated Prime Minister Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi announced Feb. 26 that the Iraqi parliament will vote to approve his Cabinet Feb. 27, saying the government will consist of independent, efficient and impartial ministers.

"Tomorrow, together — as people, as representatives, as candidates and as national political forces — we will turn the page on the quota system and look forward to a free, strong and proud Iraq," he tweeted, referring to the system implemented in 2004 that distributes political power on a sectarian basis.

Allawi had complained Feb. 24 that he was facing pressure from different political parties regarding his Cabinet selections.

Both Kurdish parties have expressed their objections to Allawi's Cabinet, threatening to boycott the session during which the Cabinet will be voted on. Some Sunni parties, such as the Iraqi Forces Alliance, also threatened to boycott the vote. Those objecting want to have their own members represented in Allawi's Cabinet. This is while Allawi is under pressure from protesters to form a nonpartisan Cabinet.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Allawi in a phone call Feb. 24 to refrain from forming his Cabinet without making a deal with both the Kurds and the Sunnis.

Allawi has been nominated by Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoun Alliance and Hadi al-Amiri’s Fatah Alliance, which consist of PMU factions. He was a compromise candidate generally accepted by all political parties, but he was rejected by the protesters from the beginning. In fact, the only objection among the political class against him is that he had not given them a role in forming his Cabinet.

For a parliament session to obtain a quorum, half plus one of its members must show up to vote — which is 168 members. Half plus one of the attendees must vote for the Cabinet to approve it. This means Shiite parties can hold the parliament session tomorrow as scheduled and vote for Allawi and his Cabinet. This happened before when parliament voted in January to end the presence of US troops in Iraq. However, this would bring more division to the already fragmented country.

In all cases, whether Allawi receives votes of confidence Feb. 27, it does not seem that he would be able to form a strong government as he is under pressure from all sides, which makes the situation difficult for him in terms of dealing with corruption, arms outside of state control and other main issues he promised to tackle in his first speech after his nomination.

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Found in: popular mobilization units, muqtada al-sadr, sunnis, mohammed tawfiq allawi, us troops, kurds

Ali Mamouri is Al-Monitor's Iraq Pulse Editor and a researcher and writer who specializes in religion. He is a former teacher in Iranian universities and seminaries in Iran and Iraq. He has published several articles related to religious affairs in the two countries and societal transformations and sectarianism in the Middle East.

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