Iraqi protesters step on their heels despite the new prime minister's designee

BAGHDAD: Furious anti-government youth stomped their heels on Iraq The capital and the south on Sunday, rejecting the nomination of the previous night as prime minister after months of demonstrations and political paralysis.

Allawi was named prime minister-designate after a hard-won consensus among Iraq 's rival parties, who had struggled to agree on a candidate since outgoing premier Adel Abdel Mahdi resigned under growing street pressure two months ago.

Mass demonstrations have shaken Baghdad and the mainly Shia south since October, with protesters demanding early elections and an independent prime minister, as well as responsibility for corruption and the recent bloodshed.

The young protesters have expressed their contempt for the ruling elite and on Sunday they criticized Allawi, a former legislator and minister, as an integral part of the system they want to review.

Mohammad Allawi is rejected, by order of the people! Read a new sign posted in the holy city of Najaf on Sunday.

Young men with their faces wrapped in plaid scarves had spent the night burning car tires in anger over the Allawi nomination and the main roads still remain blocked on Sunday, an AFP reporter said.

In Diwaniyah, further south, protesters marched to government buildings to demand that they close during the day while students began to sit in schools and universities. Protesters blocked all roads leading to the city and shouted: Allawi is not the people's choice!

In Baghdad , hundreds of students flooded the streets around the main protest camp of Tahrir Square, carrying Allawi's photograph with an "X" over his face.

We are here to reject the new prime minister because he has a well-known history within the political class, said Tiba, a 22-year-old university student.

Allawi, 65, served as a parliamentarian immediately after the US-led invasion in 2003 that overthrew former dictator Saddam Hussein, then was twice appointed communications minister under former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki.

But he resigned both times, accusing Maliki of turning a blind eye to grafting in a country considered among the 20 most corrupt in the world by Transparency International.

His appointment came after days of crisis talks prompted by President Barham Saleh, who said he would select his own candidate if the political blocs of Iraq 's parliament did not nominate someone by Saturday.

Allawi had been among the top contenders for the post, but the stalemate continued into the late afternoon, Iraq i government sources told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The conversations were very secret and it is still unclear what finally unlocked an agreement, but on Saturday night, Allawi announced his own nomination in a video posted on Twitter.

There was no official statement from Saleh, but Abdel Mahdi congratulated his successor and the couple promised to meet soon to ensure a smooth transition.

In his first formal speech, Allawi promised to form a representative government, hold early parliamentary elections and guarantee justice for violence related to protests.

More than 480 people have died and almost 30,000 have been injured since the demonstrations began on October 1, but few have been responsible for bloodshed.

Allawi has one month to form his government, but ensuring its independence may prove a challenge, said Sajad Jiyad of the Iraq -based think tank the Bayan Center.

If we have learned anything from the previous prime minister, this is the most difficult part: rejecting the demands of the political blocs, Jiyad told AFP.

In Iraq , cabinets are typically formed after complex horsetrading whereby parties demand lucrative and influential ministerial posts based on their share of parliament.

If Allawi does not resist the ministerial candidates proposed by the parties, he will support what the protesters say about their loyalty to the factions, Jiyad added.

Among the most powerful of Iraq 's political players is populist cleric Moqtada Sadr, who welcomed Allawi's nomination on Saturday as a "good step".

Sadr backed the protests in October and his staunch followers are widely recognized as the most organized and best equipped among anti-government protesters.

But on Sunday, Sadr ordered members of his movement to organise with security forces to reopen roads and schools, contrary to what other protesters across Iraq were doing.

The revolution must once again be moderate and peaceful, Sadr wrote on Twitter.

That tweet and his endorsement of Allawi were seen as a betrayal by other protesters in Baghdad , who chanted "Don't tweet however you please," hinting at Sadr, and "We are a young, leaderless revolution!"

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