Iraq names new PM as rockets hit base
Iraqi President Salih meets new prime minister-designate Adnan Zurfi.
The nomination came hours after two rockets hit an Iraqi military base hosting U.S-led coalition and NATO troops, the third such attack within a week, without causing casualties.
Lawmaker Zurfi, 54, is the former governor of the Shiite holy city of Najaf and once belonged to the Dawa party, the longtime opposition force to ex-dictator Saddam Hussein who was ousted in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
President Barham Saleh said he had nominated Zurfi to replace outgoing premier Adel Abdel Mahdi, who resigned in December, at a time when Iraq has been rocked by an unprecedented wave of anti-government rallies.
Zurfi, a member of the Nasr coalition led by ex-PM Haider al-Abadi, now has 30 days to pull together a government, which must then be confirmed by parliament.
His nomination comes at an especially tumultuous time for Iraq, which has been battered by almost six months of street protests, collapsing oil prices, the novel coronavirus outbreak and the renewed rocket attacks which Washington blames on pro-Iranian forces.
A senior government source told AFP that political factions had intensely debated names for days, seeking a “non-confrontational” figure in an attempt to preserve the status quo.