Photo taken on Sept. 3, 2018 shows the opening session of the newly elected parliament in Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq's newly elected parliament held its first session within its fourth legislative term on Monday. (Xinhua)
Iraq's newly elected parliament held its first session within its fourth legislative term on Monday.
The 329-seat parliament held the session at about 11:00 a.m. (0800 GMT) with the presence of 297 lawmakers who convened under the chairmanship of Mohammed Ali Zayni, the eldest member of the parliament.
After the outgoing President Fuad Masoum, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Speaker Salim al-Jubouri delivered their speeches, the lawmakers were sworn in.
According to the Iraqi constitution, the lawmakers should elect a new speaker from the Sunni political blocs, in accordance with the power-sharing system in Iraq, which states that the president should be for the Kurds, the speaker for the Sunnis and the prime minister for the Shiites.
However, the divided Sunni blocs nominated six candidates for the speaker post, who will need absolute majority of the total 165 lawmakers by direct secret ballot.
The parliament also will have to elect the speaker's first deputy and second deputy, usually to be one from the Shiite candidate and another from Kurdish candidate, who both will need absolute majority by direct ballot.
In the afternoon, Zayni decided to resume the session later to give time for lawmakers to reach a consensus about the nomination of the speaker post and the two deputies.
Meanwhile, political blocs led by Sairoon Coalition, led by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, have claimed they have formed the largest alliance and officially presented their document (of largest alliance) to Zayni, signed by leaders of some 20 political blocs, which includes more than 180 lawmakers.
Other blocs led by Iranian-backed Coalition of al-Fatah, headed by Hadi al-Ameri, and former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who heads State of Law Coalition, also presented their document signed individually by more than 153 lawmakers.
The conflicted announcements by the political blocs confused the political scene, as the lawmakers of each side are interpreting the constitutional Article 76 about the largest alliance in different ways, pushing the temporal Speaker Zayni to send a request to the Supreme Federal Court to interpret the article in order to decide which one is the largest.
The Shiite Fadhilah parliamentary bloc called for holding a round-table meeting of the winning blocs to fix the rift that is deepening between the two groups of the blocs about the largest alliance.
"The first session approved that divisions (over largest alliance) are deepening and threatening with further fragmentation, which will disrupt the course of constitutional obligations in their specific timings and delay the formation of the government," Ammar Tu'ma, head of Fadhilah bloc, said in a statement.
"The conflict about the largest alliance will take a long time and create a tense political atmosphere that would cause more street discontent and undermine confidence in the entire political process," Tu'ma warned.
According to the Iraqi constitution, the parliament shall elect the president from the Kurdish lawmakers by a two-thirds majority of its members. Then, the elected president will ask the largest alliance to form a government within 30 days.
On May 12, millions of Iraqis went to 8,959 polling centers across the country to vote for their parliamentary representatives in the first general election since Iraq's historic victory over the Islamic State militant group in December 2017.