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Iraqi PM-designate named after weeks of deadlock

Mohammed Allawi, 66, is a former communications minister.

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Anti-government protests have been ongoing in Baghdad for months (Hadi Mizban/AP)

Anti-government protests have been ongoing in Baghdad for months (Hadi Mizban/AP)

Anti-government protests have been ongoing in Baghdad for months (Hadi Mizban/AP)

Mohammed Allawi has been selected as the country’s prime minister-designate after weeks of political deadlock.

The choice comes as the country weathers troubled times amid ongoing violent anti-government protests, while under the constant threat of being ensnared by festering tensions between the US and Iran.

The selection of Mr Allawi, 66, Iraq’s former minister of communications, to replace outgoing Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi was the product of many back-room talks over months between rival parties.

Iraqi President Barham Salih gave parliamentary blocs until Saturday to select a candidate or he would exercise his constitutional powers and choose one himself.

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Iraq’s President Barham Salih had given rival factions until February 1 to name their candidates (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

Iraq’s President Barham Salih had given rival factions until February 1 to name their candidates (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

AP/PA Images

Iraq’s President Barham Salih had given rival factions until February 1 to name their candidates (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

In a pre-recorded statement posted online, Mr Allawi called on protesters to continue with their uprising against corruption and said he would quit if the blocs insist on imposing names of ministers.

Addressing anti-government protesters, he said: “If it wasn’t for your sacrifices and courage there wouldn’t have been any change in the country. I have faith in you and ask you to continue with the protests.”

Mr Allawi was born in Baghdad and served as communications minister first in 2006 and again between 2010-2012. He resigned from his post after a dispute with former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Parliament is expected to put his candidacy to a vote in the next session, after which point he has 30 days to formulate a government programme and select a cabinet of ministers.

According to the constitution, a replacement for Mr Abdul-Mahdi should have been identified 15 days after his resignation in early December.

Instead, it has taken rival blocs nearly two months of jockeying to select Mr Allawi as their consensus candidate.

Mr Abdul-Mahdi’s rise to power was the product of a provisional alliance between parliament’s two main blocs – Sairoon, led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and Fatah, which includes leaders associated with the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Units headed by Hadi al-Amiri.

PA