TIME

Iraq’s New Parliament Convenes to Choose PM

Nouri al-Maliki
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Baghdad, June 23, 2014. Brendan Smialowski—AP

Iraq's new parliament has convened amid pressure on lawmakers to quickly choose a new prime minster who can confront a militant blitz that threatens to rip the country apart.

(BAGHDAD) — Iraq’s new parliament has convened amid pressure on lawmakers to quickly choose a new prime minster who can confront a militant blitz that threatens to rip the country apart.

The inaugural session opened on Tuesday with the playing of Iraq’s national anthem. The proceedings are chaired by the legislature’s oldest member, Mahdi al-Hafidh.

The country’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged lawmakers last week to agree on a prime minister, president and parliament speaker before meeting in hopes of averting months of wrangling that could further destabilize the country.

But the prospects of a quick compromise appear distant, and embattled incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — whose bloc won the most seats in April elections — has shown little willingness to step aside.

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