Iraqis 'running out of patience' as parliamentarians fail to form government: UN envoy

Iraqis 'running out of patience' as parliamentarians fail to form government: UN envoy
2 min read
25 February, 2022
UN envoy to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said parliamentarians, who have yet to form a new government more than five months since national elections took place, were losing 'precious time'.
UN's envoy to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert has urged political factions to overcome their differences and focus on the Iraqi public [Getty]

The UN's envoy to Iraq on Thursday urged the country's leaders to intensify efforts to form a new government, or risk hampering much-needed change and reform.

Quarrelling parliamentarians are losing "precious time" and Iraqis are "running out of patience", envoy Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said in an address to the UN Security Council.

"Many Iraqis increasingly wonder whether the national interest is actually 'front and centre' in the ongoing negotiations- rather than access to resources and power, or how the pie of political appointments and ministries will be carved this time around," she said.

Millions of Iraqis voted for a new government that saw the Sadrist movement led by prominent Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr win 73 seats in the 329-member parliament in October last year.

But in the following months, negotiations between political blocs to fill top roles and form a cabinet kept stalling.

Parliament on Tuesday announced a list of 33 presidential candidates, including current president and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) member Barham Salih, and challenger Reber Ahmed, the candidate from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, presidential positions have unofficially been reserved for Kurdish candidates, whereas the prime minister’s post is allocated to Shias. Sunnis are appointed as parliamentary speakers.

Politicians must come to see eye-to-eye on a program that informs Iraqis on what to expect in the next four years, with a focus on employment, meaningful participation on women and youth and safety and security, Hennis-Plasschaert told the UN.

Poverty and corruption were two of the main reasons behind the mass protest movement that began in Baghdad and spread nationwide in October 2019.

More than 600 Iraqis were killed in the brutal crackdown on the protests by state security forces and Iran-backed militias.