Iraq's delayed presidential vote back on

AFP , Saturday 5 Mar 2022

The Iraqi parliament on Saturday reopened registration for candidates to run for president, a contest already behind schedule following last October's general election.

Iraqi lawmakers attending the inaugural session of the parliament in Baghdad, January 9 2022. AFP

MPs, whose job it is to elect the president, a largely ceremonial role reserved for a Kurd, set a three-day period for candidates to register, an AFP correspondent inside parliament said, by a vote of 203 in favour from 265 who attended a special session.

Lack of a quorum and legal issues have held up the contest, adding to war-scarred Iraq's political uncertainty because the president has to name a prime minister from the largest bloc in parliament.

On February 13, Iraq's supreme court ruled out a bid by frontrunner and veteran politician Hoshyar Zebari to run for president after a complaint filed against him over years-old corruption charges.

His exclusion, from a field of some 25 candidates after an initial registration, appeared to clear the way for his main challenger, incumbent President Barham Saleh, expected to run for a second term.

Iraqi politics have been in turmoil since the October 2021 general elections, which were marred by a record-low turnout, post-election threats and violence, and a delay of several months until final results were confirmed.

Intense negotiations among political groups have since failed to form a majority parliamentary coalition to name a new prime minister to succeed Mustafa al-Kadhemi.

The largest political bloc led by firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, had backed Zebari for the presidency.

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