BEIRUT

Middle East

Maliki welcomes election of new speaker

  • Shiite volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) gather together during training in Baghdad July 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Ahmed Saad)

BAGHDAD: Iraq's embattled prime minister welcomed Wednesday the election of a parliament speaker - the first step in forming a new government amid an increasing threat from militants who have taken over a large swath of northern and western Iraq.

During his weekly televised speech, Nouri al-Maliki also called on the new legislative body to put aside political rivalries and to work together to pass pending laws and to coordinate with the executive body.

But Maliki, who has ruled Iraq since 2006 and is now under intense pressure to step aside, did not indicate whether he would withdraw his nomination.

"I hope that they will work in harmony and to agree on running the parliament... away from all differences and calculations," Maliki said. "But this must not affect the work of the parliament which represents the people's will," he added.

The parliament broke their deadlock Tuesday by choosing a Sunni Speaker for parliament as well as two new deputies - a Shiite and a Kurd. But, political rivals have yet to agree on the most contentious post of prime minister or on a new president.

Under an informal agreement that took hold after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the speaker's chair goes to a Sunni, the presidency to a Kurd and the prime minister's post to a Shiite. Iraqis are under pressure to form a new government that can confront the advances of Sunni militant groups.

Maliki's coalition, State of Law, emerged a clear winner in April following a national election, securing 92 seats out of 328. But his former Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni allies deny him a third term because of what they see as his monopoly on decision-making, his perceived sectarian policies toward the Sunnis and Kurds, and the military setbacks of the past two weeks.

 
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Summary

Iraq's embattled prime minister welcomed Wednesday the election of a parliament speaker -- the first step in forming a new government amid an increasing threat from militants who have taken over a large swath of northern and western Iraq.

Political rivals have yet to agree on the most contentious post of prime minister or on a new president.

Under an informal agreement that took hold after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the speaker's chair goes to a Sunni, the presidency to a Kurd and the prime minister's post to a Shiite.


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