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Rockets hit Baghdad as Iraq MPs meet to elect president

October 13, 2022

The much-anticipated session to resolve Iraq's political crisis was delayed by a rocket attack on the capital's heavily fortified Green Zone.

Iraqi soldiers stand guard in Baghdad
The Green Zone in the Iraqi capital is a heavily fortified government and diplomatic district.Image: picture alliance/dpa

Lawmakers in Iraq elected Kurdish politician Abdul Latif Rashid as new president on Thursday.

It is a key step toward resolving Iraq's stalled government formation one year after federal elections were held.

Soon after being elected, Rashid named Mohammed Shia al-Sudani prime minister. He replaces the current caretaker prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhemi, who has been in office since 2020.

Sudani, 52, vowed to form a government "as quickly as possible."

Rockets struck Baghdad's Green Zone ahead of the parliamentary session.

At least 10 people were wounded, officials said without giving more details. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The rocket attack delayed but did not postpone the parliament session.

What is the political situation in Iraq?

Iraq is home to three major demographic factions: A Muslim Shiite group, a Muslim Sunni group, and a Kurdish ethnic group.

They traditionally adhere to a political agreement that divides the Iraqi government into a Shiite prime minister, a Kurdish president, and a Sunni parliamentary speaker.

Iraq's rival Shiite political factions had been vying for influence and the right to select a new premier.

Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was the biggest winner in last October's federal elections. However, he had failed to rally enough support. He resigned in August and wants parliament dissolved and new elections to take place.

Earning the support of al-Sadr's fans will be a major challenge for al-Sudani, who has the backing of the pro-Iran factions of the Shiite Muslim Coordination Framework.

Under Iraqi law, before lawmakers can vote on the nominee for the premiership, they must elect a president.

Lawmakers made three previous attempts to elect a new head of state, in February and March, but failed to even reach the required two-thirds threshold for a quorum when Al-Sadr ordered his lawmakers to resign en masse.

lo/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)