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Iraqi MPs fail to elect new president amid boycott

Iraqi MPs fail to elect new president amid boycott

Iraq is in the crisis again, while the lawmakers failed to elect a new head of state. During the Monday election, the key factions foiled the attempt by boycotting the parliament session.

The work of the Iraqi parliament wasn’t successful this week as the MPs failed to elect the new head of the state. In fact, the two-thirds quorum of the legislature’s 329 members is required for an electoral session.

Monday’s vote could not be held as lawmakers, many of them allied with powerful Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, stayed away. As The Washington Times reports, only 58 MPs showed up.

Iraqi politicians have been so deeply divided that couldn’t find a common ground on a compromise candidate for the presidential post. Under the current situation, the delay Monday raised concerns of a presidential vacuum that would also prevent the appointment of a prime minister.

Due to the absence of a quorum, parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi kept the session open without scheduling a new date for a vote to elect a new president.

Boycott, religious, and the largely ceremonial post of President

Outgoing President Barham Saleh represents the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s main rival in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

Iraq’s post-war convention rules that the post of president should be held by a member of the country’s Kurdish minority, the prime minister must be a Muslim Shiite and the parliament speaker a Muslim Sunni. The other front-runner for the presidency is incumbent Barham Saleh. In the Iraqi parliament, the situation is quite balanced so far.

Sadr, who heads the largest parliamentary bloc with 73 seats, announced the boycott Saturday and was followed by al-Halbousi, who heads a bloc of 51 seats. The 31-seat Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) then followed suit. Zebari represents the KDP party and has denied the corruption allegations.