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Power vacuum looms in Iraq as PM candidate quits

But Iraq could end up without a prime minister in the meantime if Abdul Mahdi, who stayed on in a caretaker capacity, also quits on Monday.

Prime Minister Mohammed Allawi in Baghdad, Iraq.

Prime Minister Mohammed Allawi in Baghdad, Iraq.Credit:AP

He issued a statement late on Sunday denying social media reports that he wanted to stay on, saying he would announce his intentions on Monday, which would have been the last day for Allawi to get his proposed Cabinet approved by parliament.

Salih appointed Allawi after squabbling lawmakers from rival parties failed for two months to decide on a successor to Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in November during mass unrest. Allawi had one month to form a government that was meant to organise early elections.

Highlighting volatile security, two blasts could be heard in central Baghdad early on Monday morning, with one missile landing near the US Embassy compound, two police sources said.

The protests, which initially demanded jobs and services, quickly turned into calls for the removal of Iraq’s entire ruling elite. Protesters had opposed Allawi because they view him as part of the system they want to bring down.

Security forces and powerful militia groups have fatally shot hundreds of mostly unarmed demonstrators. Around 500 people have been killed in unrest since October, most of them protesters, according to a Reuters tally from medics and police.

On Sunday, security forces killed one person and wounded 24 at an anti-government protest in Baghdad, a police source said.

Government officials say Allawi’s Cabinet selection was heavily influenced by renegade Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has gained from the general chaos in Iraq after the US killed a senior Iranian commander in Baghdad in January.

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