Iraq must form new government to stop instability, US says

Washington envoy Jennifer Gavito says lack of formation impedes progress in state security and economy

The Iraqi parliament has failed to form a working government in six months. EPA

Iraqi political leaders must expedite the process of government formation to stave off instability, as the country marks six months since national elections were held, a senior US official said on Friday.

Early elections were held last October to meet the demands of anti-government protesters who in 2019 staged months of mass demonstrations. Hundreds of activists died in the fight for better representation and reform.

Iraq’s post-election period often produces deadlock, with power-sharing discussions between political blocs typically lasting five months or longer.

But this time around, those talks are not happening and sporadic meetings between parties have not come close to achieving compromise on how to share power between the country's top posts.

“Our concerns are multifaceted, the ongoing delay in government formation is first and foremost a delay in the new Iraqi government being able to provide the services and deliver on the mandate for which they were elected,” said Jennifer Gavito, US deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran.

“This manifests itself in the lack of a budget and being able to move forward on a key priority for us in having a partner to be able to work [with] on priority areas,” Ms Gavito said.

She said it is time for Iraq’s leaders to form a government now that the public have made their voices heard.

Iraq’s elections last year struck a significant political blow to Iran-aligned parties, which lost several seats in parliament as the coalition led by Shiite nationalist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr made several gains.

"The US is eager to work with that new government on key issues and mutual concerns, including Iraq’s stability and sovereignty and empowerment for all Iraqis, anti-corruption human rights protection, energy independence and climate and health."

The delay in this formation "is impending our progress on these bilateral issues in all sectors including security, health care, economy and war", she said.

The US, Ms Gavito said, "wants to see a strong, united and resilient Iraq, we will stay with Iraq to support and be a friend to the Iraqi people".

In 2003, a US-led coalition invaded Iraq based on charges that the government of Iraqi leader at the time, Saddam Hussein, had weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam was ousted from power, but the alleged weapons were never found.

In recent years the US mission was dominated by helping to defeat ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.

Updated: April 22, 2022, 3:12 PM
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