selected Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) as their candidate for prime minister. Members of the National Alliance had been meeting since August 31 at the residence of SIIC leader Ammar Hakim in Baghdad to come up with their choice. Mahdi emerged as an early frontrunner after he met with Moqtada al-Sadr in Iran, but a Sadrist leader supported Ibrahim al-Jaafari of the National Reform Trend during early sessions at Hakim’s home. Mahdi ended up getting 67% of the votes, but the other two candidates Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress did not attend. Independent parliamentarian Wail Abdul Latif said that the SIIC, Sadrists, and Fadhila Party all backed Mahdi. Jaafari said he boycotted the vote, and rejected Mahdi, questioning how the Alliance cold select him in one day after talks had gone nowhere for months beforehand.
Mahdi will now run against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to get the backing of the State of Law-National Alliance coalition. In a future meeting, a joint committee of the two lists is supposed to come up with a mechanism to decide on how members will vote on the two candidates. Earlier the committee said a politician would have to get 80% of the ballots, but AK News reported that might be reduced to 65%. State of Law has 89 seats to the National Alliance’s 70.
This is the sixth time that Mahdi has been brought up as a possible candidate for the premiership. Back in 2004 he had his candidacy to be the interim prime minister vetoed by the U.S. envoy to Iraq Robert Blackwill. Then in 2005 and 2006 he unsuccessfully ran against Jaafari and then Maliki for the position. In 2007 and 2008, the Supreme Council and others Shiite parties grew dissatisfied with Maliki’s rule and tried to replace him again with Mahdi. Abdul Mahdi has been one of the political leaders of the Supreme Council since before the overthrow of Saddam, and helped create the Independent Bloc in 2007, a less religious branch of the party. He was also the Finance Minister under Iyad Allawi’s interim government in 2004, and been vice president since Jaafari’s cabinet.
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