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Iraq Parliament Session Delayed as Coalition Deadlock Persists

The convening of Iraq’s parliament was postponed as the country’s political leaders failed to reach an agreement to form a new coalition that would eliminate an eight-month power vacuum.

The legislature will meet on Baghdad on Nov. 11 instead of Nov. 8, state-sponsored al-Iraqiyah television quoted acting Speaker Fuad Massoum as saying today. Members of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s al-Iraqiyah alliance said yesterday that they wouldn’t attend the session planned for Nov. 8 because no agreement had been reached on the distribution of key posts, the Kurdish AK News news agency reported.

Since the March 7 parliamentary elections, lawmakers have met once, in a June 14 session that lasted less than 20 minutes before going into recess. Iraq’s Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 24 that lawmakers must convene again to elect a speaker and his deputies and formally close the initial session.

A political vacuum caused by the inconclusive vote has coincided with an increase in violence, prompting world and regional leaders to call for the rapid creation of an administration able to unify the country.

Iraqi leaders are conducting negotiations to try to break the impasse at the initiative of Massoud Barzani, president of the country’s Kurdish-run northern region. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had offered to hold a similar meeting under the auspices of the Arab League in Riyadh.

Once a speaker and deputies are elected, the constitution gives lawmakers 30 days to elect a president. The new president then has 15 days to ask the largest bloc in parliament to choose a prime minister, who has 30 days to form a Cabinet.

Allawi’s bloc, backed by Sunni Muslims and secular voters, won 91 seats to the 89 secured by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shiite State of Law alliance. Both are trying to muster the 163 seats needs for a governing coalition in the 325-member parliament.

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