Uncertainties mount as Iraq’s PM says he won’t seek 2nd term

Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi addresses a newly elected parliament during its first session in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. Iraq's newly elected parliament held its first session as two blocs, both claiming to hold the most seats, vied for the right to form a new government. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said he will not “cling to power,” after the country’s highest Shiite religious authority called for the appointment of a new head of government. A member of the leader’s parliamentary bloc, however, said Friday that if al-Abadi gets a majority in the legislature he will form the new Cabinet.

A member of al-Abadi’s al-Nasr List, or Victory List, said Friday that the outgoing prime minister is still negotiating to form the largest bloc in parliament and if he succeeds then al-Abadi will be nominated for forming the new Cabinet. The legislator spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief media.

Al-Abadi’s political position has weakened in the wake of rioting in Iraq’s oil capital, Basra, over corruption, failed services and contaminated drinking water.

Al-Abadi, who was backed by the U.S. for a second term in office, said he would respect the directives of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who said it was time for Iraq to appoint a prime minister it has never had before. Al-Abadi made his remarks at his weekly press conference on Thursday.

Political analyst Ihsan al-Ashaari said al-Abadi’s statement does not mean that the outgoing prime minister is no longer trying to hang on to the post. He said this decision will be made by the largest blocs in the legislature.

“The negotiations are still ongoing,” al-Ashaari said.

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