Iraqi president says continuation of political stalemate “unacceptable”

Iraqi President Barham Salih (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Saturday the continuation of the political stalemate amid challenges facing the country is “unacceptable”, hours after the country’s parliament failed to elect a new president.

The Iraqi Council of Representatives failed on Saturday to elect a new president due to a lack of quorum. 

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.

“The lack of national understandings and the failure of the parliament session to complete the constitutional entitlements is unfortunate and worrying, more than five months after the early elections,” Salih said in a statement.

“The continuation of the political stalemate amid the serious challenges facing the country is unacceptable,” he added.

The vote on the president was postponed to Wednesday, according to Esta Media Network reporter. 

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.

Salih, who is running for a second term in office, said the decision to hold snap elections was not a “goal on itself, but rather a means of reform, ensuring political and social stability, improving the general situation in the country, and responding to the demands of Iraqis.”

The elections were intended to end Iraq’s political crisis, he added.

He further said the political parties “have a historical responsibility” to alleviate the current crisis through “patriotism and solidarity” and forming a capable government that meets people’s needs and protects the country’s sovereignty and interests.

He also urged the political parties to participate in “serious and effective dialogue to get out of the current crisis without complacency or delay”.

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