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With ISIS defeated, Iraqi prime minister vows to end sectarian politics as elections loom

  • Haider al-Abadi, who belongs to the Islamic Dawa Party, said the country was previously lost with political parties built along "sectarian, ethnic or other lines."
  • "This is the first time we're sending a very very powerful message to everyone, our political system must reform itself," he said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech during Baghdad Dialogue Conference in Baghdad, Iraq on January 14, 2017.
Haydar Hadi | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech during Baghdad Dialogue Conference in Baghdad, Iraq on January 14, 2017.

With elections just months away, Iraq's prime minister has called on the country's political system to reform itself and move away from its divided past.

Haider al-Abadi, who belongs to the Islamic Dawa Party, said the country was previously lost with political parties built along "sectarian, ethnic or other lines." But he added that the country is now building a new momentum that appeals to all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity.

"It's a difficult task but we're achieving it," the told CNBC Sunday at the Munich Security Conference.

"This is the first time we're sending a very very powerful message to everyone, our political system must reform itself," he added.

2018 could set to be a year of change with parliamentary elections scheduled to be held on May 12, 2018. This will be the first elections since the defeat of ISIS and reconstruction efforts are a key focus for the current government as more than 900,000 people return to communities demolished after years of fighting.

The elections are likely to lead to a confrontation between two major camps, with former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki still fighting for influence. Al-Maliki still leads a powerful Shi'ite parliamentary bloc after being pressured to step down by the international community in 2014 due to failing to deal with the spread of the Islamic State.

Haider al-Abadi, meanwhile, promised that his party would move Iraq to a new, more prosperous stage within a reasonable timescale.

"Iraq was lost before, it was not unified. We've ended up with more powerful, more unified Iraq, which is sustainable to a prosperous Iraq in the next stage," he said.

"The Iraqi system is proportional representation which I don't think any single party would get a majority of parliament. So you have to enter into an alliance with others to form a government to share with others," he added.