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Iraq elects new president in step toward forming government

State TV said Barham Salih, of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, won 220 votes out of the 273 lawmakers who attended Tuesday’s session.

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Barham Salih elected as the country’s new president, a step toward forming a new government (Karim Kadim/AP)

Barham Salih elected as the country’s new president, a step toward forming a new government (Karim Kadim/AP)

Barham Salih elected as the country’s new president, a step toward forming a new government (Karim Kadim/AP)

Iraq’s parliament elected a veteran Kurdish politician as the country’s new president on Tuesday, a step toward forming a new government.

State TV has said Barham Salih, of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), won 220 votes out of the 273 lawmakers who attended Tuesday’s session.

He was among 20 candidates for the post, including one from the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

The two parties have dominated Kurdish politics for decades.

Under an unofficial agreement dating back to the 2003 US-led invasion, Iraq’s presidency — a largely ceremonial role — is held by a Kurd, while the prime minister is Shiite and the parliament speaker is Sunni.

Iraq held elections in May and the new president will have 15 days to task the nominee of the largest parliamentary bloc with forming a new government.

The prime minister-designate will have 30 days to submit his cabinet to parliament.

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Shiite lawmaker Hamid al-Moussawi said the lawmakers were supposed to vote on Monday, but delayed the session for nearly 24 hours after the KDP and the PUK were unable to agree on a candidate.

The parliament speaker eventually decided to hold a vote among all 20 nominees.

The KDP’s nominee, Fuad Hussein, served as chief of staff for the former Kurdish regional president Masoud Barzani.


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