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The Prime Minister designate in Iraq, a child of the Shiite political seraglio

Several times minister and twice deputy, Mr.

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The Prime Minister designate in Iraq, a child of the Shiite political seraglio

Several times minister and twice deputy, Mr. Soudani, 52, succeeds Moustafa al-Kazimi, a former journalist who became head of intelligence and propelled to the leadership of Iraq in a context of crisis.

Born on March 4, 1970, an orphan at the age of nine of a father executed for his resistance to the old regime, Mr. Soudani is representative of this Shiite political class, once the spearhead of the opposition to Saddam Hussein, and which arrived in power after the American invasion of 2003.

A graduate in agronomy, he rose through the ranks of the state apparatus in 2004, to become governor of the province of Missane, bordering Iran and rich in oil.

In 2010 he launched his career in Baghdad, and was minister of human rights, then of social affairs and even of industry. He will notably be part of a government led by Nouri al-Maliki.

It is moreover with the support of Mr. Maliki and his allies, the influential pro-Iran factions of the Coordination Framework, that Mr. Soudani must today compose his government.

Brush mustache and thick black hair cut short, dressed in classic dark suits, Mr. Soudani has been campaigning since the end of July: he meets opposition MPs and presents an ambitious program to fight against corruption and rebuild the ravaged infrastructure by conflicts.

It is not the first time that he is a candidate for the post of Prime Minister. Expected in 2019, his name will be immediately rejected by a vast and unprecedented protest movement, which denounces the entire political class.

- "Next generation" -

"He has no questionable past, nor huge corruption charges against him," concedes Sajad Jiyad, researcher at the think-tank Century International.

But for the anti-powers, "he does not have the reputation of a reformer, he is part of the political establishment, and that does not suggest that he could be different", he adds.

When last July, the Cooperation Framework nominated him as its candidate, the impetuous religious leader Moqtada Sadr rose up and mobilized thousands of demonstrators to hinder the plans of the pro-Iran factions.

For the Sadrists, continues Mr. Jiyad, "he seems to be part of the camp of Maliki", historical enemy of Mr. Sadr. "They feel he is there to defeat them politically."

After having cut his teeth in the party of Mr. Maliki, Mr. Soudani founded in 2021 his own party, Al-Furatain, represented in Parliament by three deputies.

"He's a statesman," deputy party secretary-general Bashar al-Saidi told AFP.

As if to appease Moqtada Sadr who is demanding early elections, Mr. Soudani has already warned that an election should take place "within a year and a half". And he described the Sadrist movement as a "great popular and patriotic current".

For political scientist Hamzeh Hadad, the Prime Minister-designate "has good relations with parties across the entire political spectrum". Like Mr. Kazimi, "he represents the next generation of Iraqi politicians".

Mr. Soudani is married with five children.

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