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Iraqi Premier-Designate Vows Reforms, Calls For Vote Of Confidence


Mohammad Allawi, the Iraqi prime minister-designate, addresses the nation on February 19.

Mohammad Allawi, the Iraqi prime minister-designate, says he has formed a politically independent government and has called on parliament to hold a vote of confidence to allow his impending administration to take office.

In a national address on February 19, Allawi said he has put together "an independent government without any party candidates for the first time in decades."

Allawi said he wanted the vote of confidence to occur on February 24 as a March 2 constitutional deadline nears.

Iraq has been battered by massive street protests since October 1, with demonstrators expressing anger over what they see as the “elite” class taking control of government.

They have also protested against foreign influence in the country, particularly Iran but also against the U.S. military presence.

Allawi vowed that if his government wins the confidence vote, it would immediately launch a probe into the killing of some 500 protesters during the street demonstrations and hold those responsible for the killings to account.

He said he would hold early elections that would be free from "the influence of money, weapons, and foreign interference" and called on protesters to give his government a chance despite a "crisis of confidence in everything related to politics" caused by previous administrations.

“All of what has been achieved is a result of your sacrifices and steadfastness, so congratulations on this massive honor that the people and history will remember. Congratulations on this valiant glory and this courage, for you have laid the foundations for a new era in Iraq's history," he said.

Allawi was designated premier by President Barham Salih on February 1 in an effort to end a standoff amid infighting by lawmakers from rival parties. Many protesters rejected Allawi as another member of the political elite holding power.

Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was forced to resign amid the protests but has stayed on as a caretaker premier. He said he would step down if political leaders did not back Allawi by March 2, potentially creating a dangerous vacuum at the top of the government.

Allawi warned on February 19 that if no government is formed by the March 2 constitutional deadline, "it will be because there are indeed parties that are working for instability" in order to maintain "confessionalism and corruption."

Allawi's government would be expected to rule only until early parliamentary elections are held under a new electoral law, which protesters have demanded.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa
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