Iraqi lawmakers elected former minister Abdul Latif Rashid as the country’s next president on Thursday, defying threats of further violence following a flurry of missile strikes earlier in the day and taking a key step to ending a political vacuum. paralyzing.

At least nine rockets targeted the Iraqi parliament inside the heavily fortified green zone, the seat of the government, before a long-awaited session in which lawmakers continued the formation of the next government despite the political crisis. At least five people were injured.

Under Iraqi law, the president must ask the largest block of parliament to appoint a premier. The Iraqi parliament has 329 seats.

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The Iranian-backed coordination framework, made up largely of Shia parties, has named Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as their designate premier after sending a formal letter on Thursday claiming to be the largest bloc.

Latif, 78, was elected with 162 out of 261 votes cast. He served as minister of water from 2003 to 2010 and has been an advisor to the head of state ever since. Outgoing President Barham Saleh reportedly walked out of the parliament building as votes were being counted. He lost with 99 votes.

Iraqi law gives Latif 15 days to appoint a prime minister, probably al-Sudani in this case, to present his cabinet formation to parliament to face another vote.

In the Iraqi power-sharing system, the presidency is reserved for Kurdish groups to be appointed while the presidency falls under the Shia blocs. The president of the parliament is Sunni.

Newly-elected Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid delivered a speech at the 37th FAO Conference in Rome, Italy on June 25, 2011.
(Photo AP / Pier Paolo Cito, File)

Political disputes and repeated crises prevented the appointment of a new government after federal elections were held in October 2021. The stalemate was driven largely by tense political rivalry between the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al- Sadr and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is supported by Iran.

The real test for the quarrelsome factions of the crisis-hit country will be to officially vote the new prime minister and cabinet formation with al-Sadr seemingly out of the political process after he withdrew his lawmakers from parliament and has since announced his retirement. from politics.

The missile attack delayed but not postponed the legislative session.

At least one rocket landed near the parliament building before the session, Iraqi officials said. Others have fallen in other areas within the perimeter of the Green Zone.

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At least five people were injured in the attack – three were civilians and two were military – security officials said without providing further details. The culprits were not immediately known.

The attacks, which appeared to be an attempt to derail the session, came after the Coordination Framework, an alliance composed mainly of Iranian-backed Shiite parties led by al-Maliki, delivered a formal letter claiming to be the largest block in Parliament.

The alliance has named Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as a candidate for the premiership.

Al-Sadr had previously rejected al-Sudani’s candidacy and directed his supporters to storm parliament on June 30 to derail his appointment.

Al-Sadr’s party won the most seats in the October 2021 federal election, but ordered its lawmakers to step down after failing to get a quorum to vote in a government that excluded its Iran-backed rivals. Violent street fighting erupted for 24 hours between al-Sadr supporters and Iraqi security forces on 29 August, bringing the country to the brink of civil war.

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Many feared protests from followers of al-Sadr, the Framework’s political opponent, ahead of Thursday’s session.

Mark Bryson-Richardson, Britain’s ambassador to Iraq, called the missile attack “completely unacceptable”.

“Violence plays no role in the political process and state institutions must be able to operate,” he tweeted.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to inform the media.

It wasn’t the first time that missile strikes targeted the parliament building as lawmakers prepared to attend a session.

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On 28 September, three rockets targeted the Green Zone as a session was called to renew confidence in the Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi.

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