(Reuters) – Iraq’s parliament held its first session since October’s national election on Sunday but failed to elect a speaker, in what should have been the first step toward forming a new government.
The speaker selection process was disrupted as competing political blocs each claimed to hold a parliamentary majority. After heated debates and shouting among lawmakers, the temporary leader of the assembly, Mahmoud al-Mashahadani, decided to adjourn the session and it is not known when parliament will resume.
In a further complication, Mashahadani, who at 73 is the oldest member of parliament, was suddenly taken ill and transported to hospital by ambulance. A new temporary speaker will need to be appointed before parliament can resume, parliament’s media office said. It did not give further details about Mashahadani’s condition except to say that his blood pressure was being checked.
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Parliament had been due to elect a speaker and two deputies during its first meeting.
Parliament also has 30 days from the first session to elect the country’s new president, who will then ask the largest bloc in parliament to form a government.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Ahmad Elhamy; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Susan Fenton)
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