Adnan al-Zurfi, who has been designated by President Barham Salih as Iraq’s prime minister, says his top priority is to set the stage for the holding of free and untainted parliamentary elections within a year from forming the next government.
Iraq’s prime minister-designate said in a statement released on state media following his meeting with Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi that he would make sure free and transparent elections would take place within that time span — a key demand of Iraqi protesters.
Iraqis have been staging street protests in several cities over corruption, unemployment, and shortage of basic services, calling for early polls.
Zurfi also promised protection for public protesters and activists, and said those targeting protesters would face prosecution.
‘Iraq First’ foreign policy
Under him as prime minister, Baghdad will be pursuing an “Iraq First” foreign policy, which also highlights openness towards neighboring states.
The foreign policy agenda will also require Baghdad to stay away from regional and international conflicts that could turn Iraq into an arena for score settling.
In early January, the US launched a drone strike against the Iraqi capital, assassinating Iran’s top anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, Abu-Mahdi al-Muhandis, a fellow Iraqi commander, and a number of others. General Soleimani was on an official visit to Baghdad when the attack took place.
The Iraqi parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill afterwards, outlawing all sorts of US-led foreign presence on the Arab country’s soil.
Arms will be limited to state
The PM-designate also insisted that the possession of all arms would have to be confined to the government.
He said his administration would be confronting any acts of armed aggression.
Zurfi also vowed to do his utmost to help battle the new coronavirus’ outbreak based on global scientific mechanisms. The virus has so far claimed nine lives and infected 124 others in Iraq.
He has now 30 days to pull together a government and needs to win the confidence of Iraq’s parliament for his new cabinet, a task which is expected to face difficulty as several Iraqi political groups have already objected to Zurfi’s nomination due to his background.
Zurfi — a former regional governor with little national political profile — is widely seen as a pro-West figure. He is a dual Iraqi-US national and will have to renounce his American citizenship to become prime minister.
Former prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned in November last year following mass protests in Iraq. Zurfi is the second candidate to succeed him, after Mohammed Allawi, who also quit in early March.