Iraq’s political negotiations and backroom deals will determine who becomes the next president as government formation continues, months after October’s general election was held, experts have told The National. The country’s current President Barham Salih will remain in office until further notice, after a ruling by the Federal Supreme Court late on Sunday. He has been nominated for a second term by the Kurdish Patriotic Union (PUK) party.
Twenty-five candidates, who have been approved by the Iraqi Parliament, are running for the role, including Mr Salih. However, Members of Parliament failed to vote for the country’s next president last week due to a lack of quorum, after many MPs said they would boycott the vote amid competing demands over presidential candidates.
While the role of the president in Iraq is largely ceremonial, the constitution requires the position to be filled for choosing the largest post-election political bloc, which goes on to form the government. “The law is very flexible in this government but the delay does not mean that Mr Salih will take a second term,” Renad Mansour, the head of the Iraq Initiative at London’s Chatham House, told The National.
“Generally what we’ve seen in this government formation process, the use of law is heavily politicised and is used to delay the government formation as much as possible,” he said. Backroom negotiations are continuing after the blocking of Hoshyar Zebari, who was nominated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).