Members of the new Iraqi parliament attend a session at the parliament headquarters in Baghdad July 1, 2014. (REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani)
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The Iraqi parliament's Sunni blocs have agreed on a candidate for the post of parliament speaker, paving the way for the legislature to take the first formal step toward forming a new government.Under an informal arrangement 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.According to the constitution, parliament will have 30 days after choosing a new speaker to elect a president, who will then have 15 days to ask the leader of the majority in the 328-seat legislature to form a government.The Sunni militant blitz that has swept across much of northern and western Iraq over the past month threatens to divide Iraq along ethnic and sectarian lines. Iran has maintained close ties with successive Shiite-led governments in Iraq since the ouster of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni who oppressed the Shiites.
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