Middle East

Iraqi VP calls for 'dialogue' amid row over parliament

Largest bloc in Iraq’s newly-elected parliament will have right to draw up country’s next government

Iraqi VP calls for 'dialogue' amid row over parliament


By Ali Mohamed

ERBIL, Iraq 

Iyad Allawi, Iraqi vice-president and leader of the Al-Wataniya coalition, has urged political parties and groups to hold a “national dialogue” with a view to resolving an ongoing dispute over the country’s next government.

Allawi issued his appeal on Tuesday after Iraq’s newly-elected parliament failed to elect -- for the second day in a row -- a new assembly speaker.

“As expected, parliament was unable to choose a new speaker -- along with two deputies -- amid deep-seated polarization,” he said.

Allawi went on to invite the country’s leading political powers to take part in a session of “national dialogue” with a view to resolving their outstanding differences.

A Monday assembly session -- the first of the season -- saw fierce disagreements between rival coalitions (Al-Bina and Reform & Construction), both of which claimed to have attained a parliamentary majority.

At a Tuesday session attended by only 85 of 329 MPs, parliament decided to postpone the vote for new speaker until mid-September.

Under Iraq’s constitution, the majority bloc in parliament has the right to draw up the country’s next government.

Among the most prominent nominees for the speaker post is Osama al-Nujaifi, a prominent Sunni politician.

According to results of Iraq’s May 12 parliamentary poll, Muqtada al-Sadr's Sairoon Coalition won 54 seats, followed by a Hashd al-Shaabi-led coalition (47 seats) and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Victory Bloc (42 seats).

Within 30 days of holding its first session, parliament will elect -- by a two-thirds majority -- the country’s next president.

The president will then task the majority bloc with drawing up a new government, which must be referred back to the assembly for final approval.

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