Iraqi parliament speaker’s visit to Iran delayed after vote for new president failed

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — A visit by Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi was delayed until further notice following the parliament’s failure to elect a new president, Iraqi media reported on Saturday.

Halbousi, who is also the leader of Taqaddum party, and Khamis Khanjar, head of Azm alliance, we’re scheduled to pay a visit to Iran on Sunday.

Iraqi media reported that the visit was postponed until further notice.

The delay came after the Iraqi Council of Representatives failed on Saturday to elect a new president after a legal quorum wasn’t reached.

Only 202 members of parliament out of 329 were present, which is less than the necessary two-thirds quorum needed to choose a new president for the mostly ceremonial post, while 126 lawmakers boycotted the session.

Lawmakers from the Sadrist Movement, Taqaddum party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the New Generation attended the meeting, while MPs from the Coordination Framework Iran-backed groups, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Azm alliance, the Kurdistan Islamic Union and Kurdistan Justice Group as well as part of independent lawmakers boycotted the session.

The vote on the president was postponed to Wednesday. The current caretaker government will continue to run the country until a new government is formed.

The delay prolongs a bitter deadlock in Iraqi politics months after an October general election from which Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr  emerged the biggest winner, with his Shia, pro-Iran rivals receiving a hammering at the polls.

Under a power-sharing system designed to avoid sectarian conflict, Iraq’s president is a Kurd, its prime minister a Shia and its parliament speaker a Sunni.

Sadr has vowed to push through what he calls a “national majority” government, a euphemism for one that excludes pro-Iran groups.

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