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Iraqi lawmakers elected Abdul Latif Rashid, a Kurdish politician and former minister for water, as the country’s new president, the first step to ending a long-running political deadlock that has left Iraq without a government since last year’s elections, the New York Times reported.
Rashid’s election came as rockets struck the capital’s heavily guarded Green Zone – where the legislature is based – and other areas of Baghdad. Authorities said at least three people were injured, while buildings and vehicles were damaged.
No one claimed responsibility for the attacks but caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi denounced them as an “attempt to obstruct the democratic process.”
The president’s election follows a year of political crisis in Iraq that began after the October 2021 election. That poll was a major victory for the political bloc of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has rejected interference in Iraqi affairs by Iran as well as other countries.
Even so, Sadr’s faction failed to form a government. Iraq’s political turmoil escalated in August when the cleric announced he was leaving politics. Shortly after his announcement. Sadr’s supporters stormed the Green Zone and the parliament.
But his withdrawal also caused the Coordination Framework, a political bloc made up of mostly Iran-backed Shiite parties, to become the largest parliamentary alliance and have the right to nominate a new prime minister, according to Al-Monitor.
Analysts said that Rashid’s election will ease the way for the nominee for prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, to form a government. Sudani, who had served as a minister in preceding governments, pledged to improve public services, crack down on corruption and implement government reforms.
He now has a month to offer his cabinet picks to parliament, a procedure that is often carried out in backroom negotiations between parties prior to the cabinet being publicly presented for approval.
Iraq’s deadlock has made it impossible for lawmakers to pass an annual budget, leaving billions of dollars in oil revenue unspent.