Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi Resigns Amid Increasing Poltiical Turmoil

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of Iraq formally submitted his resignation to Parliament on Saturday and asked lawmakers in a televised national address to quickly agree on a successor.

But Mr. Mahdi’s resignation may not spell the end of the turmoil that has racked the nation over the past two months. Parliament is scheduled to meet Sunday and will vote on accepting his resignation, but it has yet to agree on an alternative.

“The resignation of the government is a method of peaceful handover of power in democratic systems,” Mr. Mahdi said in his brief speech, adding that the government had tried to meet the demands of the country’s widening protest movement.

Protests driven by anger over political corruption and Iran’s influence over Iraqi politics — coupled with the government’s violent response — had put Mr. Mahdi under intense pressure to step down. At least 400 people have been killed in the unrest, according to the United Nations and hospital sources.

Assuming Parliament accepts Mr. Mahdi’s resignation, the formation of a new government could go quickly, but it will more likely take weeks, if not months. That realization quickly dissolved protesters’ initial jubilation over Mr. Mahdi’s announcement on Friday that he would step down.

Mr. Mahdi and his ministers would still serve in a caretaker government until President Barham Salih requests that the largest bloc in Parliament name a new prime minister and that person’s ministers are then approved by a majority. History shows that agreeing on a prime minister can be a long, arduous process of balancing competing political factions.

It became so protracted in 2018 that Iranian officials helped set up the current government, brokering an agreement that brought in Mr. Mahdi and Mr. Salih as well as the Parliament speaker, Mohammed al-Halbousi.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin and Falih Hassan