Iraq’s Sadr forms ‘save the nation’ alliance to push for government formation

Two men nominated for the posts of prime minister and president

Populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr. AP

Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr announced a new parliamentary bloc on Thursday and nominated Rebar Ahmed Khalid for the presidency and Mohammed Jaafar Al Sadr for prime minister.

The populist cleric's new alliance includes the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), led by the family of Kurdistan's Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, and the Al Siyada Alliance, which is the country’s largest Sunni political bloc that includes parliamentary speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi’s Progress party and politician Khamis Al Khanjar’s Azm alliance.

“We are seeking to form a national majority government and vow to complete the reform process through a clear and transparent government programme free of external interference," said Hassan Al Adhari, head of the Sadrist Parliamentary Bloc.

Mohammed Jaafar Al Sadr, who is Mr Al Sadr's cousin and Iraq's ambassador to Britain, has been nominated to take the post of prime minister.

"I am honoured to be a candidate for a coalition that represents the country in all its sects. Let us work together to restore the state that all my dear countrymen aspire to," he said on Twitter after the announcement.

Rebar Ahmed Khalid was nominated for the presidency. Getty Images

Rebar Ahmed Khalid, 54, has served as the Kurdistan Region’s Interior Minister since 2019, and is known to have close ties with Prime Minister Barzani. He has been put forward for presidency.

Parliament is expected to host a voting session on Saturday to confirm Mr Khalid's nomination.

Top positions such as the presidency are reserved for a nomination from one of the two main Kurdish parties, while Shiites get the prime minister’s post and Sunnis get the parliamentary speaker's position.

President Barham Salih will remain in office until further notice, after a ruling by the Federal Supreme Court late on Sunday. He has been nominated for a second term by the Kurdish Patriotic Union party.

Mohammed Jaafar Al Sadr. Photo: Iraq Embassy London

Mr Al Sadr called for a swift government formation after the months-long delay to nominate a president and prime minister so a Cabinet can be established.

"I hope to form a national majority government in Iraq without procrastination and delay, and I will not remain idle if the previous tragedy is repeated,” he said on Twitter.

In early February, Iraqi legislators failed to elect a new head of state as key factions, many of them allied with Mr Al Sadr, foiled the attempt by boycotting the parliament session.

Only 58 of the legislature’s 329 members showed up.

Updated: March 24, 2022, 4:17 PM