Iraq elects new president and prime minister

Ending a year of deadlock after a national election in October last year, Iraq’s parliament on Thursday elected Kurdish politician Abdul Latif Rashid as president, who immediately named Mohammed Shia al-Sudani prime minister-designate.

The presidency is traditionally occupied by a Kurd in Iraq and is a largely ceremonial position, but the vote for Rashid was a key step toward forming a new government.

Rashid, 78, was the Iraqi minister of water resources from 2003-2010. He is a British-educated engineer who won against former President Barham Salih. Salih was running for a second term.

He invited Sudani, 52, to form a government. Sudani is the nominee of the largest parliamentary bloc known as the Coordination Framework, an alliance of Iran-aligned factions. Sudani previously served as Iraq’s human rights minister and minister of labor and social affairs.

He now has 30 days to form a cabinet and present it to parliament for approval.

Thursday’s vote was the fourth attempt to elect a president this year and took place shortly after nine rockets landed on Thursday around the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, according to a military statement as quoted by Reuters.

Reuters quotes sources as saying that at least 10 people, including members of the security forces, were injured in the attack.

Similar attacks took place last month as the parliament was holding a vote to confirm its speaker, Reuters reported.

The Iraqi parliament session on Thursday comes a year after an election in which populist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was the biggest winner but failed to rally support to form a government.