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Iraqi PM Abadi's nominee as oil minister withdraws candidacy

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The nominee for the post of oil minister in Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s proposed cabinet, Nizar Saleem Numan, who is a Kurd, withdrew his candidacy on Friday apparently because he had not been formally put forward by the main Kurdish groups.

“Because there is no political agreement over the form of the future government, I withdraw my candidacy for the ministry of oil position,” he told a news conference in Dohuk.

Numan, a 65-year-old petroleum geologist, is part of the lineup of technocrats presented on Thursday by Abadi who wants the new government to focus on fighting rampant graft in the OPEC nation. Parliament must vote on the reshuffle in the next 10 days.

Though Numan did not elaborate on his decision to pull out, outgoing finance minister Hoshiyar Zebari, who is also a Kurd, said Abadi’s lineup lacked the formal approval of the Kurdish groups.

“The Kurdish alliance has one position: we are for the respect of the Constitution and we won’t allow the Kurds’ representatives be imposed on us,” Zebari told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“Any future representation of the Kurds has to be just and fair,” added Zebari, who belongs to the Kurdistan Democratic Party, one of the largest group in the Kurdish alliance coalition.

Numan is the dean of the college of planning at the University of Duhok in the Kurdish region and spent three decades at the University of Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, now under control of Islamic State militants.

Reporting by Isabel Coles and Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Richard Balmforth