BAGHDAD (Dispatches) – Iraq's rival parties were negotiating the contours of a new government on Monday, after the previous cabinet was brought down by a two-month protest.
After just over a year in power, premier Adel Abdel Mahdi stepped down last week after a dramatic intervention by top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
"In response to this call, and in order to facilitate it as quickly as possible, I will present to parliament a demand (to accept) my resignation from the leadership of the current government," a statement signed by Abdul Mahdi said on Friday.
Iraq’s parliament approved the resignation of Abdul-Mahdi on Sunday.
Parliament on Sunday formally tasked President Barham Saleh with naming a new candidate, as prescribed by the constitution.
But Iraq's competing factions typically engage in drawn-out discussions and horsetrading before any official decisions are made.
Talks over a new premier began even before Abdel Mahdi's formal resignation, a senior political source and a government official told AFP.
"The meetings are ongoing now," the political source added.
Such discussions produced Abdel Mahdi as a candidate in 2018, but agreeing on a single name is expected to be more difficult this time around.
"They understand it has to be a figure who is widely accepted by the diverse centers of power, not objected to by the marjaiyah (Shia religious establishment), and not hated by the street," said Harith Hasan, a fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center.
Nearly two months of protests have rocked primarily Baghdad and the southern areas of Iraq. The protesters have been expressing frustration with a failing economy and have demanded reforms.
The rallies have, however, turned into violent confrontations on numerous occasions.
Commenting on the ongoing unrest across Iraq, Lawrence Davidson, a professor in West Chester University, said in an interview with Press TV on Sunday that some foreign elements were desperately attempting to make Iran a "scapegoat” for Iraq’s social and economic problems.
The remarks come after masked assailants last week set fire on the Iranian consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf and burned tires around the building.
Davidson said the "U.S. was considering the protests an opportunity to create a trouble and direct them against Iran.”