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New Iraqi parliament to convene early next year

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Iraq's new parliament will convene on January 9, according to a decree issued on Thursday by President Barham Salih.

Lawmakers will elect a parliamentary speaker and two deputies in their first session. They will later elect a new president who will task the leader of the largest bloc to form a government as prime minister.

The main winner of the October 10 election was Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Sadr’s bloc, already the biggest in the 329-seat parliament, will expand to 73 seats from 54. Its main rivals for years, the Fatah bloc, meanwhile, saw its parliamentary representation collapse to just 17 seats from 48.

Fatah bloc political leaders held a meeting with cleric Sadr at his home in the southern holy city of Najaf on Wednesday to discuss the formation of the government, but no clear results have been announced after the meeting, stated two Shi’ite officials who attended.

“Atmospheres were positive and we think we need to hold more meetings to reach common ground,” noted one Shi’ite official.

Because no coalition won a majority, Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish coalitions have been jockeying for position in the new government.


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