Iraqi President Barham Salih has appointed Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as the country’s new prime minister, according to state television, ending more than two months of political deadlock.
Saturday’s announcement comes as Iraqis continue anti-government protests for a fourth consecutive month, and two months after Adel Abdel Mahdi resigned from the post under pressure from the street.
Allawi would run the country until early elections can be held. He must form a new government within a month.
President Barham Saleh had told Iraq’s divided parliament that he would name his own candidate unless it nominated someone by February 1.
Allawi, 65, in a video he posted to Twitter, said Saleh had named him and that he would form a new government in line with protesters’ demands.
“I decided the first to do was to speak to you [Iraqi people] directly, before I address anyone else because my authority comes from you,” he said.
“This is your country, this is your right … all we have to do is execute your demands. We have to protect you instead of repressing you,” he added.
In his address, Allawi also pledged to restore the country’s battered economy and fight corruption.
Choosing Allawi for the position was the product of many backdoor talks that persisted for months between rival parties.
Three Iraqi officials said Allawi was named prime minister designate by rival Iraqi factions earlier on Saturday.
‘Continue with the protests’
In a pre-recorded statement posted online, Allawi called on protesters to continue with their uprising against corruption and said he would quit if the blocs insist on imposing names of ministers.
“If it wasn’t for your sacrifices and courage there wouldn’t have been any change in the country,” he said addressing anti-government protesters. “I have faith in you and ask you to continue with the protests.”
Allawi was born in Baghdad and served as communications minister first in 2006 and again between 2010-2012. He resigned from his post after a dispute with former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Parliament is expected to put his candidacy to a vote in the next session, after which point he has 30 days to formulate a government program and select a cabinet of ministers.
Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said there is a long way to go before Allawi is approved on the streets by the protestors.
“He needs to win over the parliament,” Khan said.
“It’s likely that … they [parties] couldn’t agree on anybody else so they’ve had to circle back to Mohammed Tawfik Allawi and say … we’re going to have to take this seriously and talk about this,” he said.
According to Khan, while some protestors seem to accept his name, others say he is part of the “old school … the previous government”.
Protestors in Iraq have been calling for new faces and new names to lead the country.
According to the constitution, a replacement for Abdul-Mahdi should have been identified fifteen days after his resignation in early December. Instead, it has taken rival blocs nearly two months of jockeying to select Allawi as their consensus candidate.
Abdul-Mahdi’s rise to power was the product of a provisional alliance between parliament’s two main blocs – Sairoon, led by Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr, and Fatah, which includes leaders associated with the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units headed by Hadi al-Amiri.