Iraq’s Prime Minister-designate Adnan al-Zurfi has withdrawn his candidacy for the post as major political factions endorse intelligence chief Mustafa Al Kadhimi to form a government.
Zurfi, who had been nominated by President Barham Salih, announced his withdrawal from the prime minister post in an official statement on Thursday, in a move that deepens the months-long political stalemate in the Arab country.
Zurfi was tasked on March 17 with forming a new Iraqi government until the constitutional deadline of April 17.
His appointment came more than two weeks after former premier-designate Mohammed Allawi withdrew his candidacy for the post following the parliament’s failure to approve his cabinet.
Zurfi, the 54-year-old ex-governor of the holy Shia city of Najaf, heads the Nasr parliamentary grouping of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
He was a former official of the US-run authorities that took over Iraq after the 2003 US invasion.
He also lived in the United States as a refugee in the 1990s after fleeing the regime of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein.
Zurfi’s candidacy for the Iraqi premiership was met with widespread opposition form Shia-majority political factions, which recently endorsed Kadhimi for the position.
Many in Iraq viewed Zurfi’s appointment as a US-sponsored conspiracy against the country’s resistance front, which played a key role in defeating the Daesh terror group in late.
Kurdish and Sunni movements have also supported Kadhimi’s nomination.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned last November in the wake of the demonstrations calling for economic reforms and a meaningful fight against corruption in state institutions.
Since October 2019, Iraqis have staged street protests in several cities over unemployment and a lack of basic services, calling for early elections.
The anti-government rallies, however, took a violent turn later.
Reports say more than 550 people have been killed and about 25,000 injured in the course of the violent protests.