Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi is ready to resign in the words of President Barham Salih. In addition, he would agree to new elections in Iraq, as soon as a new electoral law was adopted, Salih said in a televised speech. The background to this is the ongoing protests in the country since the beginning of October, in which at least 250 people were killed and thousands injured.
"The Prime Minister has agreed to offer his resignation," Salih said. Abdel Mahdi has asked political blocs in parliament to agree on an "acceptable alternative" to prevent a "constitutional vacuum". "The status quo can not go on, we really need big changes." Salih stated that he was supporting the protests in the country. Their demands are legitimate.
Mahdi had lost the backing of the two strongest camps in parliament as part of the anti-government protests. Populist Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, head of the largest faction, and his rival of the alliance of Iran-backed Shiite militias, Hadi al-Amiri, said they had agreed to push Mahdi out of office. "We will work together to protect the interests of the Iraqi people and save the nation in accordance with the public interest," Amiri said. Previously, Al-Sadr had demanded a new election. After the Prime Minister refused, Sadr and Amiri had announced cooperation.
End of the compromise candidate?
Abdul Mahdi took up his post as head of the fragile coalition government only a year ago. Previously, it had been arguing for weeks about the country's political future. After all, Mahdi was the compromise candidate of Sadr and Amiri, both of whom themselves had not received enough votes to form a government.
It is unclear whether the current government would remain in power for the time being, or whether a transitional government would take its place. The latter would be possible through an agreement between Al-Sadr and Al-Amiri. They could also receive support from the Kurdish parties and the alliance of former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The demonstrators are calling on the government to call for early elections and reform of laws and the constitution. They criticize the escalating corruption in the country, the high level of unemployment and the inadequate supply of electricity and drinking water, for example. The country is still suffering from the aftermath of the civil war and the long battles against the terrorist militia "Islamic State".