Iraq’s Parliament Re-elects al-Halbousi as Speaker
The newly elected Council of Representatives, Iraq’s parliament, on Sunday re-elected Mohammed al-Halbousi as speaker. Al-Halbousi won 200 votes, while his opponent, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, won only 14. Another 14 ballots were declared invalid. The 73-year-old al-Mashhadani, who was the Council of Representatives’ first speaker, holding the position from 2006 to 2008, was, as the eldest member of parliament, slated to chair the session, but was rushed to a hospital after a sudden health problem. His first alternative declined to chair the session, so it was chaired instead by the second alternative, Khalid al-Darraji. Iraq’s power-sharing system requires that the speaker be a Sunni Muslim, that the first deputy be from the Shiite community, and that the second deputy be Kurdish. Parliament should elect a new president within 30 days. The president, in turn, will ask the largest parliamentary alliance to name a prime minister-designate, who will then have 30 days to form a new government. The presidency is reserved for the Kurds, while the prime minister must be a Shiite Muslim.