Iraq’s parliament ends session still deadlocked

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s deadlocked parliament ended its second session after just 30 minutes Sunday without making any progress toward forming a new government that can unite the country and confront the Sunni militant blitz that has seized control of a huge chunk of the country.

The legislature is under pressure to quickly choose a new speaker of parliament, president and prime minister — the first steps toward a new government. Hopes had been raised that lawmakers might at least vote on a speaker of parliament Sunday after Sunni blocs announced that they had agreed on a candidate for the post, Salim al-Jubouri.

But acting parliament speaker Mahdi al-Hafidh ended Sunday’s brief meeting “due to the absence of any agreement on the names of the nominees for the three posts.” He scheduled the next session for Tuesday.

Under an informal arrangement that took hold after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the speaker’s chair goes to a Sunni, the presidency to a Kurd and the prime minister’s post to a Shiite. In the past, Iraq’s Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish political blocs have agreed to all three posts ahead of time as a sort of package deal. It was unclear whether political leaders would insist on a similar arrangement this time around.

According to the constitution, parliament will have 30 days after choosing a new speaker to elect a president, who will then have 15 days to ask the leader of the majority in the 328-seat legislature to form a government. Then a prime minister will be picked.