Iraqi MPs Choose Former Minister Abdul Latif As The Country’s New President

Iraqi lawmakers on Thursday elected former minister Abdul Latif Rashid as the country’s next president, defying the threat of further violence after a barrage of rocket attacks earlier in the day and taking an important step towards ending a paralyzing political vacuum.

At least nine rockets aimed at Iraq’s parliament in the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of the government, ahead of a much-anticipated session in which lawmakers continued to form the next government despite the political crisis. At least five people were injured.

Iraqi law requires the president to call on Parliament’s largest bloc to appoint a prime minister. The Iraqi parliament seats 329.

The Iran-backed Coordination Framework, which is largely made up of Shia parties, has named Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as their prime minister candidate, after it submitted a formal letter Thursday claiming to be the largest bloc.

Latif, 78, was elected with 162 of the 261 votes cast. He was minister of water resources from 2003 to 2010 and has been an advisor to the head of state ever since. Outgoing President Barham Saleh reportedly walked out of the parliament building as the votes were counted. He lost by 99 votes.

Iraqi law gives Latif 15 days to appoint a prime minister, likely in this case al-Sudani, to present his cabinet formation to parliament for a new vote.

In the Iraqi power-sharing system, the presidency is reserved for Kurdish groups to nominate, while the premiership falls under Shia blocs. The Speaker of Parliament is a Sunni.

Political wrangling and repeated crises prevented the appointment of a new government after the federal elections in October 2021. The stalemate has largely been caused by a tense political rivalry between influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and backed former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. by Iran.

The real test for the squabbling factions of the crisis-stricken country will be to officially vote in the new prime minister and cabinet line-up with al-Sad, ostensibly out of the political process after he withdrew his lawmakers from parliament and has since pulled out. the politicians had announced.

The missile strike delayed, but did not delay the legislative assembly.

At least one rocket landed near the parliament building ahead of the hearing, Iraqi officials said. More fell in other areas within the perimeter of the Green Zone.

At least five people were injured in the attack — three were civilians and two were military — security officials said without giving more details. The perpetrators were not immediately known.

The attacks, which appeared to be an attempt to derail the session, took place after the Coordination Framework, an alliance made up of mainly Iran-backed Shia parties and led by al-Maliki, delivered a formal letter claiming to be the largest bloc to be in parliament.

The alliance named Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as their prime minister candidate.

Al-Sadr had previously rejected al-Sudani’s candidacy and ordered his supporters to storm parliament on June 30 to derail his nomination.

Al-Sadr’s party won the largest number of seats in the October 2021 federal election, but he ordered his lawmakers to resign after failing to secure a quorum to vote in a government that has defeated its Iranian-backed rivals. would exclude. Violent street fighting broke out on August 29 between al-Sadr supporters and Iraqi security forces, putting the country on the brink of civil war.

Many feared protests from supporters of al-Sadr, a political opponent of the Framework, ahead of Thursday’s session.

Mark Bryson-Richardson, the British ambassador to Iraq, called the missile attack “completely unacceptable.”

“Violence plays no part in the political process and state institutions must be able to operate,” he tweeted.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to inform the media.

It was not the first time that rocket attacks targeted the parliament building as lawmakers prepared to attend a session.

On September 28, three missiles targeted the Green Zone as a session was called to renew confidence in parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi.

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