Divided Iraq parliament postpones session to begin forming government
A crucial parliamentary session to begin the process of forming a government was delayed and an Iraqi general was killed yesterday as solutions to the country's worst crisis in years appeared increasingly distant.
The developments highlighted bickering among political leaders despite calls for unity to see off a jihadist-led offensive which the security forces have struggled to repel.
Several officials and a lawmaker, all speaking on condition of anonymity, said the meeting had been rescheduled for August 12 because MPs could not agree on a new speaker.
More than two months after elections in which Nouri al-Maliki's camp won the most seats, though not a majority, parliament has yet to begin the process of choosing the country's top three positions, which according to an unofficial deal are split between the Shiite Arab, Sunni Arab and Kurdish communities.
A session last week ended in chaos, with MPs heckling and trading threats before some of them eventually walked out, forcing an adjournment.
Iraqi forces have largely regrouped after the debacle that saw soldiers abandon their positions and, in some cases, even weapons and uniforms as militants led by the Islamic State jihadist group conquered second city Mosul and advanced to within about 80km of Baghdad.
But while Iraq has received equipment, intelligence and ground help from the US, Russia, Iran and even Shiite militias it once shunned, government efforts to push back were dealt a blow by the killing of a senior general, Najm Abdullah al-Sudani, yesterday.