Iraqi MPs broke their deadlock on Tuesday and elected a new speaker of parliament, taking the first formal step towards forming a new government that is widely seen as crucial to confronting rebels who have overrun much of the country.
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The legislature voted on Tuesday to pick Sunni lawmaker, Salim al-Juburi, as the new speaker with 194 votes in the 328-seat parliament.
It was unclear whether al-Jubuuri's election indicated that a larger agreement had been struck among political blocs for the posts of president and prime minister.
The parliament has 30 days from the time it elected its speaker to pick a new president, and another 15 days to elect a prime minister.
Under an informal agreement that took hold after the 2003 US-led invasion, the speaker's chair goes to a Sunni, the presidency to a Kurd and the prime minister's post to a Shia.
Parliament is under pressure to move quickly to fill all three posts and form a new government that can confront Sunni rebels, led by the Islamic State group, who have overrun much of northern and western Iraq.
Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said that Juburi's election was the easiest step in forming any new government.
"Expect to see a lot of serious politicking Baghdad," he said. "It is likely that there will be plenty of bumps in the process."
The incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki, has ruled the country since 2006 but is under intense pressure to step aside. He is insisting he be picked for a third term.
However, Maliki's inability to prevent the armed offensive of Sunni rebels has deeply shaken confidence that he can hold Iraq together.
His opponents and even many of his former allies accuse him of trying to monopolize power and alienate the Sunni community.
Maliki has so far refused to withdraw his candidacy, and insists he has a mandate because his State of Law bloc's captured the most seats in April elections.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies