Iraq parliament to vote on new cabinet on Thursday

Mohammed Allawi urged to reveal government programme and names of ministers 48 hours beforehand

A handout picture released by Iraqi Prime Minister's Media Office shows Iraqi prime minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi giving a televised speech in Baghdad on February 19, 2020. Allawi called for parliament to hold a confidence vote on his government early next week.  Allawi has promised an independent cabinet of technocrats, a key demand of a protest movement sweeping the country's capital and south since October 1. - === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / IRAQI PRIME MINISTER'S PRESS OFFICE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ===
 / AFP / IRAQI PRIME MINISTER'S PRESS OFFICE / - / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / IRAQI PRIME MINISTER'S PRESS OFFICE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ===
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The Iraqi Parliament is set to meet on Thursday to vote on prime minister-designate Mohammed Allawi’s proposed cabinet.

Deep-seated mistrust and political division have delayed the session, but politicians must give their approval to all of the country’s 22 ministers for Mr Allawi to formally take office.

“Parliamentarians will vote to give confidence to the new government, with the prime minister-designate sending the ministerial curriculum and CVs for the candidates ahead of schedule,” the Parliament said on Monday.

The session is set to begin at 1pm Baghdad time. Heads of Parliament urged Mr Allawi to reveal his government programme and the names of his proposed ministers before Thursday.

Mr Allawi, who was named as a consensus candidate by Iraq's divided political parties on February 1, had called for a vote on Monday after months of anti-government protests.

Political jockeying between blocs has been in full swing for the last three weeks.

"I think Mr Allawi's proposed cabinet will be passed by Parliament," Jaber Al Jaberi, a member of Parliament for Anbar province, told The National.

Yet Kurdish political blocs in Parliament have rejected Mr Allawi's options.

If he fails to put together a governing coalition, or if Parliament rejects his cabinet, then President Barham Salih will have to nominate another candidate within 15 days.

Mr Allawi needs 166 of the 329 MPs to vote in favour of his cabinet and plan to secure his position in government.

He has proposed an "independent" cabinet.

In a televised speech last week, Mr Allawi said his government's first act would be to investigate the killing of protesters in the months-long movement.

He said a "new page" had been turned in Iraq's history and that it was time to establish a "new phase".

Mr Allawi promised to hold an early election free from "the influence of money, weapons and foreign interference".

Iraq's departing prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi last week called for a quick formation of cabinet.

Mr Abdul Mahdi warned that he would walk away from his caretaker post if a cabinet was not approved by March 2.

He stepped down in November during demonstrations urging an end to corruption, an independent prime minister and a total government overhaul.

The development comes as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Mr Allawi to protect American troops.

It was the first substantive US comment on Mr Allawi since his appointment.

Washington backs a "strong, sovereign and prosperous" Iraq, Mr Pompeo said.

He "stressed Iraq's obligation to protect US and coalition diplomats, forces and facilities", State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

Mr Pompeo also emphasised "the urgency with which Iraq's next government must put an end to the killing of protesters, seek justice for those killed and wounded, and address their legitimate grievances", Ms Ortagus said.

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