Iraq parliament's largest alliance backs KDP challenger for presidency
Iraq's largest parliamentary alliance will back a new challenger for the country's presidency, three political sources have told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister service.
The sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the Sadrist Movement, led by Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, and the Sovereignty Alliance of Sunni parties would back Reber Ahmed, the candidate for president from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
Ahmed, currently Iraqi Kurdistan's interior minister, replaces Iraq's ex-foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari as the KDP's candidate for president, the sources said.
The Sadrist Movement, the Sovereignty Alliance and the KDP make up a tripartite alliance of the biggest winners of last October's parliamentary elections.
The Federal Supreme Court last week barred Zebari from the presidential race, following allegations of corruption and wasting of public money while he was foreign minister from 2004 to 2014.
The largely ceremonial role of Iraq president conventionally goes to a Kurd.
Iraq's current president is Barham Salih, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the second biggest Iraqi Kurdish party and a longtime rival of the KDP.
A Sadrist Movement member in Baghdad told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed: "The Sadrist Movement and the Sovereignty Alliance hope for a Kurdish consensus on one candidate, but this hasn't happened yet".
They said they had been told the PUK "wants a deal including positions in the Kurdistan region and outside it in exchange for giving up the presidency of the republic."
"We don't know the accuracy of that, but we are committed to our pledges," the source added.
Mishaan Al-Juburi, a lawmaker and senior figure within the Sovereignty Alliance, also confirmed the tripartite alliance would back Ahmed.