From snap polls to new president: Iraq's year of turmoil

AFP , Thursday 13 Oct 2022

After trying to form a new government since elections last year, Iraq on Thursday succeeded in electing a new president.

Iraq s Parliament
A handout picture released by the Iraqi Parliament, shows Iraq s Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbusi heading a session during which as new president is due to be elected, in the capital Baghdad, on October 13, 2022. AFP


Here is a timeline of 12 months of political turmoil which has periodically spilled over onto the streets.

October 2021: Snap polls

On October 10, 2021, Iraq holds early parliamentary elections aimed at defusing youth-led protests that erupted in late 2019 over corruption and crumbling public services.

The political movement of the powerful Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, which was already the biggest in parliament and had campaigned on a nationalist, anti-corruption agenda, increases its tally of seats, despite a high abstention rate.

His rivals in the pro-Iranian Fatah Alliance, the political arm of the former paramilitary alliance Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces), suffer sharp losses. They reject the results as fraud.

November 2021: attempt to kill PM

Weeks of tensions follow.

Hashed al-Shaabi supporters stage a sit-in at an entrance to Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, home to government buildings and foreign embassies.

On November 5, one demonstrator is shot dead in clashes between security forces and several hundred supporters of pro-Iran groups.

On the night of November 6, outgoing Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi escapes unharmed in an assassination attempt at his Green Zone residence.

No group claims responsibility for the attack.

Political wrangling

Amid the protests, Iraq's political parties try to form a government.

The main Shia parties traditionally form a coalition, irrespective of how many parliamentary seats each has won.

But Sadr infuriates his Shia rivals by insisting on trying to form a "majority government" with his movement naming the prime minister with the support of Sunni Muslim and Kurdish allies.

On November 30, the final election results confirm the Sadrists' victory, with the bloc winning 73 out of 329 parliamentary seats, compared with 17 for the Fatah alliance, down from 48 previously.

January 2022: Stormy first session

On January 9, 2022, the new parliament re-elects Sunni Muslim speaker Mohammed al-Halbussi, in a stormy first session.

The vote is boycotted by the pro-Iran Coordination Framework, which draws together the Fatah alliance and lawmakers from the party of Sadr's longtime foe, former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Feb-March 2022: No agreement on president

Parliament holds three failed attempts to elect a new Iraqi president between February 7 and March 30.

The largely ceremonial role traditionally goes to a member of Iraq's Kurdish minority.

The president's election usually paves the way for the designation of a prime minister and the formation of a new government.

June 2022: Pro-Sadr MPs resign

On June 10, all 73 pro-Sadr MPs resign in order to pressure their rivals to fast-track the formation of a government.

Their seats go to the candidates who came second, making the pro-Iran bloc the biggest in parliament.

July 2022: unrest after PM nominated

On July 25, the pro-Iran Coordination Framework nominates former minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, 52, as prime minister.

Outraged Sadr supporters breach the Green Zone on July 27 and stage a brief sit-in in parliament.

Three days later, they return in their thousands and vow to stay "until further notice".

On August 12, Coordination Framework supporters begin their own sit-in near the Green Zone, calling for the swift formation of a new government.

August 2022: Sadr quits politics

On August 29 Sadr announces his "definitive retirement" from politics and the closure of "all the institutions" linked to his Sadrist movement.

Thousands of his supporters storm the government palace inside the Green Zone.

At least 30 Sadr supporters are shot dead in 24 hours in fighting with rival Shiite factions and a national curfew is decreed. They swiftly withdraw after Sadr calls on them to do so.

October 13: New president elected

Abdul Latif Rashid, a 78-year-old Kurdish former water resources minister, is elected president by parliament, replacing the incumbent Barham Saleh.

The election of Rashid, seen as a compromise candidate, sparks hope of an end to a year of political gridlock.

His first task was nominating Sudani as prime minister, who will now attempt to form a new government.

Search Keywords:
Short link: