BEIRUT / BAGHDAD: Politicians have begun requesting a postponement of Wednesday’s session of Iraq’s parliament, after dozens of people indicated they want to be the country’s next head of state.
A member of the Kurdistan Alliance bloc, Mohsen Saadoun, demanded a postponement because the legislature would be unable to select a successor to outgoing president Jalal Talabani “after more than 100 candidates have come forward.”
Saadoun told an Iraqi news outlet that the session should be pushed back to after the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
“It won’t be settled in one session, but will require several sessions, due to the large number of candidates,” he said.
Talabani’s PUK bloc denied media reports that it had nominated two individuals, Barham Saleh and Fouad Maasoum.
The state news agency said a non-Kurd candidate, MP Hanan Fatlawi, had also filed to run with Parliament.
Fatlawi, from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law bloc, said she believed that “Iraq’s outside face should be Arab.”
The agency noted that the constitution does not bar non-Kurds from running, as the sectarian allotment of the top three government posts – president, prime minister and speaker of Parliament – is an informal arrangement.
The media reports quoted a parliamentary official who would only confirm that a “large” number of candidates had come forward, and that a committee had been formed to study their qualifications.
Former Planning Minister Mehdi Hafez, meanwhile, said he had dropped his presidential bid in large part because of the crowded candidate field, and complained about the lack of guidelines governing the process of submitting candidacies.
The rush to elect a new president came as government forces continued to battle an ISIS-led insurgency in several parts of the country.
Ten people were killed, including a mother and three children, in a government airstrike on a militant-controlled town of Hawija, north of Baghdad, hospital sources and witnesses said. A tribal leader and former army officer said the dead were all civilians, and included an elderly couple. He blamed the militants for locating a base in the town center.
Attacks overnight in two Iraqi cities killed at least 16 people, officials said.