Iraq crisis deepens after PM-designate steps down
Baghdad: Protest-torn Iraq on Monday faced more political gridlock after prime minister-designate Mohammed Allawi withdrew overnight, accusing lawmakers of obstructing his attempt to form a government.
Oil-rich but poverty-stricken Iraq has for five months been rocked by the biggest wave of anti-government demonstrations since the 2003 US-led invasion toppled former dictator Saddam Hussein.
The mostly youthful protesters demand the ouster of Iraq's entire political elite, which they accuse of being inept, corrupt and beholden to powerful neighbour Iran.
Allawi's departure plunges Iraq deeper into uncertainty and leaves President Barham Saleh 15 days to propose a new candidate -- likely intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kazimi, according to political sources.
Iraq has been in legal limbo since outgoing premier Adel Abdel Mahdi stepped down in December, as the constitution makes no provisions for such a resignation.
Allawi's withdrawal a month after his appointment marks another first for Iraq, which has never seen a premier-designate fail to secure parliamentary backing for a cabinet line-up.
Iraq's bitterly divided parliament had on Sunday failed for a third time to convene a confidence vote on Allawi's proposed government.
In a letter to the president, Allawi charged that some factions were "not serious about reform or fulfilling their pledges to the people".
One Iraqi official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that "political leaders are living in a bubble" and dealing with the crisis "as though nothing has happened in the country". - AFP