Internacionales

Iraq fails to elect new president as political impasse continues

Following the session, parliament speaker Mohammed al Halbusi said the “lack of a quorum forces us to continue holding sessions until it is achieved”, the state-owned Iraqi News Agency reported

The postponement exacerbates Iraq’s political problems because it is the task of the president to formally name a prime minister, who must be backed by an absolute majority in parliament. Just 202 lawmakers arrived in parliament, falling short of the two-thirds quorum required for the 329-member legislature to conduct an electoral session. ((Iraqi Parliament Media Office/Handout via Reuters)) Iraqi lawmakers have failed again to elect a new president, keeping the country mired in political paralysis.

Parliament's lack of a quorum — set at two-thirds of the house's 329 members — held up Saturday's vote for the second time since February, deepening war-scarred Iraq's political uncertainty.

Only 202 lawmakers showed up, a parliamentary official told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, and a new session had to be scheduled for Wednesday.

Following the session, parliament speaker Mohammed al Halbusi said the “lack of a quorum forces us to continue holding sessions until it is achieved”, the state-owned Iraqi News Agency reported.

Parliament had issued a final list of 40 candidates for the post, a largely ceremonial role that by convention is reserved for a member of Iraq's Kurdish minority.

The contest pits Barham Saleh, the incumbent and a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), against Rebar Ahmed of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the PUK's rival.

On February 13, Iraq's supreme court ruled out a presidential bid by KDP-backed veteran politician Hoshyar Zebari, after a complaint filed against him over years-old, untried corruption charges.

READ MORE: Iraqi court bars ex-foreign minister Zebari from running for presidency

Deep chasms

Iraqi politics was thrown into turmoil following last October's general election, which was marred by record low turnout, post-vote threats and violence, and a months-long delay before the final results.

Intense negotiations among political factions have since failed to forge a majority in support of a new prime minister to succeed Mustafa al Kadhemi.

The largest political bloc, led by firebrand Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, had backed Zebari for the presidency and has now thrown its weight behind Ahmed.

A first vote in parliament on February 7 failed to materialise as it was widely boycotted amid the Zebari legal wrangle.

Saturday's failed session underscored the sharp divide in Iraqi politics between Sadr, the general election's big winner, and the powerful Coordination Framework, which had called for a boycott.

The Coordination Framework includes the pro-Iran Fatah Alliance — the political arm of the Shia-led former paramilitary group Hashed al Shaabi.

With the support of Sunni and Kurdish parties, Sadr wants the post of prime minister to go to his cousin Jaafar Sadr, Iraq's ambassador to Britain, once the question of the four-year presidency has been settled.

READ MORE: Iraq court orders oil revenues from Kurdish region to be given to Baghdad

Source: AFP