Fist fight in Iraqi parliament as effort to elect speaker fails

At least one person was reported injured in brawl

Members of Iraq's parliament at the session to elect a new speaker. EPA
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Iraq’s parliament descended into chaos as politicians fought each other and at least one was reported injured.

The brawl between MPs broke out on Saturday after attempts to elect a speaker had failed with neither of the two main candidates securing enough votes.

Local TV stations aired the fist fight and reported one person inside the chamber was hurt.

Saturday's vote is the closest the chamber has come to selecting a new Speaker, with 311 legislators showing up for the session and the leading candidate falling only seven votes short.

The parliament announced that 158 MPs picked Salem Al Issawi and 137 chose Mahmoud Al Mashhadani. However, candidates required at least 165 votes to win.

It was the latest in a series of failed attempts to replace the former speaker who was dismissed in November.

Political bickering and divisions between key Sunni parties derailed previous attempts.

After the fight, the parliament's media office announced the session had been adjourned.

Under the country's post-Saddam Hussein power-sharing system, meant to avoid more sectarian conflict, the post of speaker is held by a Sunni Arab, the president is Kurdish and the prime minister a Shiite Arab.

However, disputes between ethnic blocs often delay appointments to these posts.

The parliament is dominated by a coalition of pro-Iran Shiite parties, reflecting the country's largest religious group.

A coalition of three Sunni blocs backed Mr Al Issawi, while Mr Al Mashhadani, who served as Iraq's first speaker after the adoption of the 2005 constitution, received the support of the former speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi's sizeable bloc.

He was dismissed by the Federal Supreme Court in November last year after facing charges of forgery.

Updated: May 19, 2024, 4:45 AM