Iraqi PM-designate says he has picked cabinet, seeks vote of confidence

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FILE PHOTO: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi speaks during a symbolic funeral ceremony of Major General Ali al-Lami, who commands the Iraqi Federal Police’s Fourth Division, who was killed in Salahuddin, in Baghdad, Iraq October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily

(Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi said on Wednesday he has put together a cabinet of political independents and called on parliament to hold an extraordinary session next week to grant it a vote of confidence.

Iraq is facing an extraordinary domestic crisis as nearly 500 people have been killed since Oct. 1 as protesters demand the ouster of what they see as a corrupt ruling elite and an end to foreign interference mainly by Iran and the United States.

Allawi said in a televised speech that if his government wins a confidence vote, its first act would be to investigate the killing of protesters and bring the perpetrators to justice.

He also promised to hold an early election free from “the influence of money, weapons, and foreign interference” and called on protesters to give his government a chance in spite of a “crisis of confidence in everything related to politics” that he blamed on the failures of his predecessors.

“All of what has been achieved is a result of your sacrifices and steadfastness, so congratulations on this massive honor that the people and history will remember, congratulations on this valiant glory and this courage, for you have laid the foundations for a new era in Iraq’s history,” he said.

A former communications minister, Allawi was designated premier by President Barham Salih on Feb. 1 after months of squabbling by lawmakers from rival parties, but protesters immediately rejected him as a stooge of the political elite.

Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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