April 9 (UPI) -- Adnan al-Zurfi resigned as the designated prime minister of Iraq on Thursday and dropped efforts to form a new government after he failed to secure necessary support among lawmakers.
Al-Zurfi was tasked by Iraqi President Barham Salih last month to cobble together support in Parliament for a new government as Iraq reeled from mass protests over poor living conditions and the coronavirus pandemic
The former Najaf province governor and strong U.S. ally, however, gave up his appointment Thursday after failing to win the support of Parliament's powerful Shiite bloc. His resignation cleared the way for the bloc's preferred candidate, intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi, to form Baghdad's next government.
"My decision came in line with our Iraq's best interests and in order to maintain our country's unity," al-Zurfi told reporters in Baghdad.
Iraq has been without an official government since December when Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi was forced to resign amid the protests, during which more than 600 people were killed.
Al-Zurfi was the second appointed prime minister since then to fail to form a government. Abdul-Mahdi has remained in a caretaker role.
There's optimism that Kadhimi has enough support from both Shiite and Sunni parties to succeed in forming a coalition government.