Iraqi MPs elect new president amid threat of rocket fire

Oct 12, 2022, 9:06 PM | Updated: Oct 13, 2022, 9:59 am
FILE - Candidate for the post of Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General, Abdul Latif Ra...

FILE - Candidate for the post of Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General, Abdul Latif Rashid, of Iraq, delivers his speech during a session of the 37th FAO Conference in Rome, June 25, 2011. Iraqi lawmakers on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, elected former minister Abdul Latif Rashid as the country's next president, defying threats of further violence following a barrage of rocket attacks earlier in the day and taking a key step toward ending a crippling political vacuum. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito, File)

(AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito, File)

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi lawmakers on Thursday elected former minister Abdul Latif Rashid as the country’s next president, defying threats of further violence following a barrage of rocket attacks earlier in the day and taking a key step toward ending a crippling political vacuum.

At least nine rockets targeted Iraq’s Parliament inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of the government, ahead of a much-anticipated session where lawmakers forged ahead with the formation of the next government despite the political crisis. At least five people were wounded.

Per Iraqi law, the president must call on Parliament’s largest bloc to nominate a premier. Iraq’s Parliament seats 329.

The Iran-backed Coordination Framework, composed of largely Shiite parties, has named Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as their premier-designate, after submitting a formal letter claiming to be the largest bloc on Thursday.

Latif, 78, was elected with a vote of 162 out of 261 votes cast. He served as water resources minister from 2003 until 2010 and has been an advisor to the head of state since. Outgoing President Barham Saleh reportedly walked out of the parliament building as the votes were tallied. He lost with 99 votes.

Iraqi law gives Latif 15 days to nominate a prime minister, likely in this case al-Sudani, to present his cabinet line-up to Parliament to face another vote.

In Iraq’s power-sharing system, the presidency is reserved for Kurdish groups to nominate while the premiership falls under Shiite blocs. The speaker of parliament is a Sunni.

Political wrangling and repeated crises prevented the appointment of a new government after federal elections were held in October 2021. The stalemate has been driven largely by a tense political rivalry between influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is backed by Iran.

The real test going forward for the crisis-hit country’s bickering factions will be in officially voting in the new prime minister and cabinet lineup with al-Sadr ostensibly out of the political process after he withdrew his lawmakers from Parliament and since announced his withdrawal from politics.

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

At least one rocket landed close to the parliament building ahead of the session, Iraqi officials said. More fell in other areas inside the Green Zone perimeter.

At least five people were wounded in the attack — three were civilians and two were military personnel — security officials said without giving more details. The culprits were not immediately known.

The attacks, which appeared to be an attempt to derail the session, occurred after the Coordination Framework, an alliance made up of mostly Iran-backed Shiite parties and led by al-Maliki, delivered a formal letter claiming to be the largest bloc in Parliament.

The alliance named Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as their nominee for the premiership.

Al-Sadr had previously rejected al-Sudani’s candidacy and directed his supporters to storm the parliament on June 30 to derail his nomination.

Al-Sadr’s party won the largest number of seats in the October 2021 federal election, but he ordered his lawmakers to resign after failing to secure a quorum to vote in a government that would exclude his Iran-backed rivals. Violent street fighting erupted for 24 hours between al-Sadr’s supporters and Iraqi security forces on Aug. 29, bringing the country to the brink of a civil war.

Many feared protests by the followers of al-Sadr, a political opponent of the Framework, ahead of Thursday’s session.

Mark Bryson-Richardson, Britain’s ambassador to Iraq, called the rocket attack, “completely unacceptable.”

“Violence has no part in the political process and state institutions must be allowed to operate,” he tweeted.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

It was not the first time rocket attacks have targeted the parliament building as lawmakers prepared to attend a session.

On Sept. 28, three rockets targeted the Green Zone as a session was convened to renew confidence in parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2018, file photo Amazon Prime boxes are loaded on a cart for delivery in Ne...
Haleluya Hadero, Associated Press

Amazon says it had its biggest Thanksgiving shopping weekend

Amazon said Wednesday it had its biggest ever Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend, aided by a record number of consumers looking for deals online amid high inflation.
12 hours ago
A sign at Twitter headquarters is shown in San Francisco, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chi...
David Klepper, Associated Press

Twitter ends enforcement of COVID misinformation policy

Twitter will no longer enforce its policy against COVID-19 misinformation, raising concerns among public health experts and social media researchers that the change could have serious consequences if it discourages vaccination and other efforts to combat the still-spreading virus. Eagle-eyed users spotted the change Monday night, noting that a one-sentence update had been made to […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

NYC public employees among 19 accused of pandemic aid fraud

NEW YORK (AP) — Nineteen people including 17 New York City and New York state public employees were charged in a federal complaint unsealed Wednesday with submitting fraudulent applications for funds intended to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic. The accused, including employees of New York City’s police department, correction department and public school […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Lordstown Motors shipping out first batch of electric trucks

LORDSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — Commercial electric vehicle startup Lordstown Motors has received approval to ship the first batch of its first model, the Endurance pickup. The company announced Tuesday that the first units of the initial batch of 500 trucks were leaving the plant after they passed safety tests and hit several key benchmarks needed […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Fire on US aircraft carrier injures 9 sailors; cause sought

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A fire broke out aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, resulting in minor injuries to nine sailors, military officials said Wednesday. The blaze broke out Tuesday morning as the USS Abraham Lincoln was conducting routine operations about 30 miles (50 kilometers) off Southern California, the Navy said in a statement. “The […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

S. Dakota AG hires missing Indigenous, trafficking positions

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s attorney general on Wednesday announced that he has filled a position to coordinate efforts from state, tribal and local law enforcement agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations, to tackle alarming rates of Indigenous people going missing or having their deaths remain unsolved. The attorney general’s office has put […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Iraqi MPs elect new president amid threat of rocket fire