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Sadrist bloc to boycott vote on Iraq president

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Sadrist bloc to boycott vote on Iraq president

Iraq’s Council of Representatives was set to vote on a new president today – Photo: Reuters

Iraq’s Council of Representatives is set to convene in Baghdad to elect a new president.

Since voters elected a new parliament in October 2021 and the legislature reconvened in early January, MPs have struggled to form a government. Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr controls the largest bloc. The office of president—traditionally given to a Kurd—is ceremonially responsible for inviting a new government.

It is highly unlikely that the vote will take place. Al-Sadr announced a boycott due to continued candidacy of lead challenger Hoshyar Zabari. His bloc accuses the former finance minister of embezzling $1.8 million in public funds during his term.

Al-Sadr’s move is intended to be a show of his majority faction’s strength and commitment to rule of law, but it could backfire. His main rival—the largely Iran-backed Shia Coordination Framework—continues to dispute the election results. Expect the faction to spin the walkout as obstructionism and call for further election fraud demonstrations. This in turn will garner further support for pro-Iran sympathies among anti-Sadrists.

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Photo: Robert Ward

Regardless of how negatively anti-Sadrists paint the walkout expect it in the short-term to further delay the formation of a government and call into question parliament’s legitimacy.

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