Iraqi President Barham Salih sets January 9 date for new parliament to convene

New legislators will elect speaker and president before starting process of forming new government

Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr is expected to wield considerable influence in Iraqi politics after January 9. AFP

Iraq's newly elected parliament will convene on January 9, according to a decree from President Barham Salih on Thursday, in the first step towards appointing a government.

MPs will elect a parliamentary speaker and two deputies in their first session. They will later choose a president, who will ask a nominee from the largest parliamentary bloc to form a government and serve as prime minister.

On Monday, Iraq’s highest court rejected a challenge to the results of the October 10 parliamentary elections filed by Iran-backed factions.

The appeal submitted by Hadi Al Ameri, head of the pro-Iran Fatah coalition, alleged fraud in the election process.

The Federal Supreme Court upheld the final results announced by the Independent High Electoral Commission on November 30 after recounts in several constituencies.

A bloc led the populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr was the biggest winner in the poll, taking 73 of parliament’s 329 seats. The Fatah coalition's share fell to 17 from 48 in the last election.

How is the government formed?

After the final results are announced by the High Electoral Commission and approved, the president calls the new parliament to convene within 15 days.

Under article 55 of the constitution, parliament elects a new speaker and two deputies during the first session by an absolute majority. It is customary for the speaker to be a Sunni Arab, with Kurdish and Shiite deputies.

Parliament then elects a new president within 30 days of convening the first session. This must pass by a two-thirds majority, and it is customary for the president to be Kurdish.

If none of the candidates obtains the required majority, a second ballot is held.

The newly-elected president hands responsibility to the head of the political alliance or party with the majority of seats in the elections to form the government within 15 days.

The prime minister-designate is required to nominate the members of his Cabinet within a maximum period of 30 days from the date of the assignment.

A new prime minister will be selected if the first cannot form a Cabinet.

Updated: December 30th 2021, 2:53 PM