Iraq’s top court upholds re-election of parliament speaker

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Iraq’s top court on Tuesday confirmed the re-election of Mohammed al-Halbousi as parliament speaker, following appeals against its conduct, paving the way toward the formation of a new government.

Two lawmakers had appealed Halbousi’s re-election as speaker, a position historically reserved for Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority, during parliament’s opening session earlier in January which was overshadowed by disputes between rival blocs from the Shia majority.

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“The Federal Supreme Court rejected the appeal of two MPs who demanded the annulment of the inaugural session of parliament on January 9,” in which Halbousi was re-elected, said presiding judge Jassim Mohammed Aboud.

The ruling will allow the resumption of parliament sessions, and along with them deliberations over the selection of a new president, who will in turn choose the next prime minister, to be approved by the legislature.

Lawmakers have until February 8 to elect a president – a post historically allocated to a Kurd.

But negotiations between parties and coalitions seeking to form a parliamentary majority have been marked by tensions, particularly between key Shiite currents seeking to exert their influence.

Both the Coordination Framework and another bloc formed by firebrand Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr claim to have the majority needed to elect a president.

The legislature opened to furious arguments between the rival factions.

Amid the debate, Mahmud al-Mashhadani – the oldest member of parliament who was therefore chairing the opening session – was taken ill and rushed to hospital.

When the session resumed an hour later, lawmakers re-elected Halbousi of the Sunni Taqadom party as speaker.

Appeals against the speaker’s re-election were filed by Mashhadani and another MP, Bassem Khachan.

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