Baghdad, Iraq – The resignation of Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki after a tense standoff has cleared the way for his replacement, Hayder al-Abadi, to attempt to bridge the gaps between Sunni and Shia leaders over the formation of a new government, according to Iraqi lawmakers.
Maliki’s State of Law coalition won the most seats in April’s parliamentary election, and Maliki had insisted on his right to form a government. But he came under intense pressure both from within his own party and internationally to step down after eight years in office.
The appointment of Abadi drew widespread support within Iraq, as well as from the United States and Iran. The parliament in Baghdad will now hold talks to form a new government. Under the Iraqi constitution, the Shia National Alliance (NA), which is the biggest bloc in parliament, has the exclusive right to form the government.
“The National Alliance will lead the talks with respect to [distributing] ministries, posts and the governmental programme, so Kurds and Sunnis have to deal with the NA,” said Abdulkareem al-Anazi, a senior Shia lawmaker and a leader of NA.
“The problem is the governmental programme, which will include many tangles that the prime minister cannot deal with if he is not backed by all the Shia parties.”
Whatever its make-up, Iraq’s new government will face several serious challenges. Fighters from the Islamic State group now control large swathes of northwest Iraq after taking over the city of Mosul on June 10, and are fighting Kurdish forces who are now backed by limited US air support.