Iraq Prime Minister-designate to prepare transparent elections within a year of forming government

Reports of rockets targeting Baghdad's Green Zone hours after his appointment

Iraq's President Barham Salih meets with new prime minister-designate Adnan al-Zurfi in Baghdad, Iraq March 17, 2020.  The Presidency of the Republic of Iraq Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Iraq's new Prime Minister-designate Adnan Al Zurfi said he will prepare for free and fair elections within a year from the formation of the next government.

The former governor of Najaf province was appointed by Iraq's President Barham Salih on Tuesday in an attempt to overcome months of unrest and deadlock.

However, powerful Shiite blocs quickly lined up to reject his nomination.

Mr Al Zurfi, 54, said he would enforce state control over weapons and the security situation and eliminate all armed actors.

A pro-West candidate, Mr Al Zurfi served several terms as governor of Najaf and was elected in the 2018 parliamentary vote under the Nasr coalition led by former prime minister Haider Al Abadi.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday Mr Al Zurfi would have the support of Washington and the international community if he upheld Iraq's sovereignty, refused to be tainted by corruption and protected human rights among others.

Meanwhile, two rockets fell outside Baghdad's Green Zone on Tuesday but there were no casualties reported, Iraq's military said.

The spokesman of the US-led coalition, Colonel Myles Caggins, said in a tweet that "Iraqis are investigating the explosions in Baghdad," with more details expected to come from the Iraqi military.

"As of 11pm [Baghdad Time], no rockets were fired at Camp Taji. In Baghdad, no explosions occurred near US coalition facilities."

Iraq's security media confirmed that two Katyusha rockets were fired from the capital's Arab Jabour district. One landed in an abandoned building and the other in the Tigris River.

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