Most influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada Sadr endorses new PM designate Allawi

Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr, the most influential in the Arab country’s political system, has endorsed the designation of a technocrat as prime minister, saying it is a good step after months of political turmoil.

Sadr said in a tweet on Saturday that President Barham Salih’s appointment of Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as Iraq’s new prime minister could draw the support of people who have been demanding change in the way the country is governed.

“I hope the president’s appointment of Mohammad Allawi is acceptable to the people and that they have patience,” read part of Sadr’s Arabic statement on Twitter, adding, “This is a good step”.

Allawi’s appointment came two months after former prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned in the face of mounting unrest and protest against corruption in Iraq.

The Iraqi parliament, where Sadr’s bloc is the largest, had been supposed to name a new premier but the deadline expired on Saturday, prompting Salih to appoint Allawi.

However, a group of Iraqi protesters took to the streets in Baghdad to reject Allawi, accusing the former communications minister of being a member of Iraq’s corrupt elite.

Allawi, the son of a wealthy Iraqi industrialist who educated at the American university of Beirut, is a cousin of pro-Western Shia politician Ayad Allawi, a figure who has been at the heart of many political disputes in Iraq for the past years.

Mohammad Allawi has a reputation of repeatedly clashing with Nouri Maliki, a key political figure known for his anti-American positions who led two governments in Iraq after the US invasion of 2003.

However, the new PM designate said on Saturday that he would try to maintain his political independence as a head of government and would oppose any external pressure for appointment of ministers in his new cabinet.

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