Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led the Sairoon Coalition to victory in the May 12 election, demanded the first session of parliament to resume on Oct. 7, 2018. (Photo: Archive)
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday stated he would only accept independent nominees for the ministerial posts of defense and interior in Baghdad after parliament delayed another session at which the question was to be settled.
In late October, the Iraqi Parliament gave its vote of confidence to 14 ministers. The rest were due to be voted in early November but has been repeatedly delayed as leading coalitions continue to contest the two posts vital to the country’s security.
“O’ my people, I am not the cause of delaying the conclusion of the government formation but that of postponing their schemes,” Sadr said in a tweet, in an apparent response to reports claiming otherwise.
“I will not accept a minister of defense or interior [who is politically] affiliated,” stated Sadr, who is the leader of the Reform and Reconstruction parliamentary bloc.
Sadr’s statement comes a day after parliament postponed by a week its Tuesday session, scheduled to resolve the vote on the vacant ministerial portfolios.
In the meantime, the populist cleric suggested to Iraqi Prime Minister, Adil Abdu-Mahdi, to present to lawmakers his nominees for the rest of his cabinet, excluding those of defense and interior who would be voted on a later date.
He added that the PM should choose among “candidates that were previously great leaders who freed invaded lands from the hands of the cursed Da’esh [Islamic State (IS)] without intervention from any party or side.”
“Our neighbors are our friends, not our masters,” he added, referring to rumors of interference by regional powers, notably Iran, in the selection of ministers.
In addition to defense and interior, vacant posts include the ministers of planning, higher education, immigration, culture, and justice.
A parliamentary source on Tuesday told Kurdistan 24 that a further delay is expected unless the lawmakers receive the CVs of the PM’s candidates well before the session to have “sufficient time for review.”
Editing by Nadia Riva