BAGHDAD, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on Wednesday urged the Iraqi political leaders to reach consensus on a prime minister-designate candidate who meets the aspirations of the Iraqi people.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said "at this stage, time is of the essence, and the situation calls for decisive action. Iraq cannot afford band-aid solutions or coercive measures."
Hennis-Plasschaert, who is also UNAMI chief, warned of violent acts against protesters and civil society activists.
She said that "it is the ultimate responsibility of the state to protect its people. Iraq's political leaders must assume this responsibility by responding to the rightful demands for reform without further delay," according to the statement.
The Iraqi President Barham Salih has been in difficult negotiations with the political parties and representatives of demonstrators to choose a candidate as prime minister-designate to form a new government that would replace the caretaker government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
Salih has a deadline until Thursday to choose a candidate as a prime minister-designate.
On Dec. 1, the Iraqi parliament approved the resignations of Abdul Mahdi and his government and sent a letter about the resignation to President Salih on Dec. 4, then Salih will have to task a prime minister-designate within a period of 15 days.
The prime minister-designate has 30 days to form a cabinet and present it to parliament for approval. The parliament must approve each minister in separate absolute majority votes.
For their part, the demonstrators reject any candidate for prime minister-designate from the political parties participating in the current political process, and stipulate that the candidate be independent.
The current political row came as mass demonstrations have continued in the capital Baghdad and other cities in central and southern Iraq since early October, demanding comprehensive reform, fight against corruption, better public services and more job opportunities.