Iraq parliament adjourns as rebellion mounts

MPs fail to agree on new speaker, halting a process that would swear in new administration to face Sunni rebels.

Iraq's armed forces have faced a lightning assault by rebels aligned with the Islamic State group [AFP]

Iraq’s parliament has been adjourned for a week, hours into its first session, after it failed to reach agreement on senior appointments, as the country grapples with an onslaught from Sunni rebels.

The acting speaker said on Tuesday that no agreement had been reached on naming a new speaker and that the parliament had no quorum, and must be adjourned.

Parliament convened with 255 deputies out of 328, but only 75 returned after a recess to discuss candidates.

The Reuters news agency quoted al-Hafidh as saying that the adjournment would last a week.

The parliament was due to elect a new president after confirming the speaker. The president would then charge the leader of the biggest parliamentary bloc with forming a government as prime minister.

The Shia political bloc of Nouri al-Maliki, the incumbent, won by far the most seats in the April polls, but his reaffirmation as prime minister is being opposed by Sunni opponents, and even some allies who want a less divisive leader.

Maliki has himself said any attempt to override his authority would be attempting a coup.

The forming of a new government comes as the UN said more than 2,417 Iraqis had been killed in June alone, making it the deadliest period since the height of sectarian warfare in 2007.

The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIL and the pre-eminent force in the rebellion, on Sunday said its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was now the ruler of a new caliphate stretching across areas under his control Syria and Iraq.

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Source: News Agencies