Iraq picks popular Sunni politician as parliament speaker

Iraq picks popular Sunni politician as parliament speaker
Tue Jul 15, 2014 20:08:21

Iraqi lawmakers elected Salim Jabouri, Sunni politician, as their parliament speaker in the first step to break the country's political deadlock as the army began a second operation to try to get control of Tikrit from extremist militants.

Jabouri, 42, who was the head of the human rights committee in the previous parliament, was elected speaker with 194 votes out of 273.

Lawmakers are also expected to elect two deputy speakers.

Jabouri is the youngest person to ever get elected to the post, is a popular figure among Iraqi Sunnis, Shias and Kurds.

Iraqi political analysts see Jabouri as an unbiased person, contrary to the former speaker, Usama al-Nujaifi, who is hoped to head the parliament effectively.

Parliament has failed since its election in late April to break an impasse that has blocked the process of choosing the country's top three positions of president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker.

It is still not clear whether lawmakers have reached an agreement on candidates for the premier, the most critical position.

Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who has been in office since 2006, is fighting for a third term.

According to rules set after the US-led invasion in 2003, Iraq's leadership must incorporate all three of the country's major demographic groups.
The speaker has to be a Sunni Muslim, the prime minister a Shia and the president Kurdish.

Army forces, meanwhile, launched an attack to retake the northern city of Tikrit, the second operation since extremist militants took over several cities across the country last month.

Army officials said military forces began their operation from the northern and southern entrances of the city and are trying to move towards the provincial council in the center of Tikrit.

The forces are backed by tanks, helicopters and artillery as they try to seize control of the city from militia led by fighters of the terrorist organization Islamic State.

The army has been trying to take control of Tikrit, 140 kilometers north-west of Baghdad, for the past two weeks.

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