Iraqi parliament fails to elect president amid boycott by pro-Iran parties

Rivalry between political groups continues to delay formation of a new government after October 10 national elections

The Iraqi Council of Representatives in Baghdad, where accord is rare and members have yet to agree on a president. AFP
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Iraq's divided Parliament failed on Saturday to elect the country’s next president, extending a six-month political deadlock after national elections in October.

Based on the Federal Supreme Court ruling, a quorum of two-thirds of members of Parliament is needed to hold the vote, but only 202 of the required 220 MPs attended the session.

Shortly after starting the session, Speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi announced that Parliament would reconvene on Wednesday to elect the president.

Despite emerging as the clear winner in the October 10 polls with 73 seats in the 329-member legislature, Shiite populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr's efforts to form a government have been blocked an alliance of his Iran-backed Shiite rivals.

Known as the Co-ordination Framework, the alliance led the boycott of the session to pressure Mr Al Sadr to include them the new government.

The cleric's bloc has teamed up with influential Kurdish and Sunni MPs who attracted the most votes in their communities.

Mr Al Sadr has offered to limit the representation in the next government of pro-Tehran parties, who suffered significant losses in the October elections.

An attempt to elect a president last month failed because of a boycott of the process by major political parties.

The election of the president is a vital step in the process of forming a government.

Under the constitution, the president has to invite the prime ministerial nominee of the largest bloc in parliament to form the government.

Under an unofficial agreement, Iraq’s presidency – a largely ceremonial role – is held by a Kurd, while the prime minister's post is reserved for a Shiite and that of parliament speaker for a Sunni.

Other government posts are divided among the country’s political parties based on their religious and ethnic background.

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Updated: March 26, 2022, 4:41 PM