New agreement needed after Sunni infighting stalled Iraqi parliament speaker election: lawmaker

New agreement needed after Sunni infighting stalled Iraqi parliament speaker election: lawmaker

Shafaq News/ A member of Iraq's State Forces Alliance, led by Ammar al-Hakim, has thrown cold water on hopes for a swift resolution to the parliamentary deadlock, saying there are no plans for a near-term session to elect a new speaker amid ongoing disagreements between major Sunni actors.

In a statement to Shafaq News Agency, Lawmaker Ali Nehmeh said "intensity of the Sunni-Sunni conflict" precludes holding a new session.

He added that "no progress can be made without a new agreement among all political parties" following the disruptions that marred the previous session.

Yesterday, Iraq's lawmakers failed to elect a speaker as neither of the two main candidates secured a majority during a tense session of parliament.

Nehmeh stressed that al-Mandalawi's status as a speaker is not a political maneuver. "Neither the alliance nor Mr. al-Mandalawi himself desires this situation," he stated. "The sole reason for the impasse is the ongoing Sunni infighting, which threatens to extend al-Mandalawi's term until the end of the parliamentary session."

It is the latest in a series of failed attempts to replace the former head of parliament who was dismissed in November, with political bickering and divisions between key Sunni parties derailing every effort so far.

The parliament's media office announced that 137 lawmakers chose Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the oldest MP, while 158 picked Salem al-Issawi.

However, candidates require at least 165 votes to win.

The largely ceremonial role of president traditionally goes to a Kurd, that of prime minister to a Shiite, while the speaker of parliament is usually Sunni. But parliament is dominated by a coalition of pro-Iran Shiite parties, reflecting the country's largest religious group.

The new speaker will replace Mohammad al-Halboosi, the influential politician dismissed by Iraq's top court in November after a lawmaker accused him of forging a resignation letter.

Al-Halboosi had been the country's highest-ranking Sunni official since he first became a speaker in 2018.

The new speaker's stint will not last long with the general election due in 2025.

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