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.