Middle East

Iraqi parliament convenes, but no sign of a government

Iraq parliament convenes 14 June 2010
Image caption The acting speaker declared the parliament open but suspended it indefinitely

A new parliament has convened in Iraq, more than three months after inconclusive elections.

But there is no sign yet of a new government being formed.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is trying to keep his job after the Iraqiya list, led by Iyad Allawi, narrowly won the most seats in the election on 7 March.

The provisional speaker, Fouad Maasoum, said parliament was due to elect a new speaker, but the political blocs wanted further consultations.

Mr Masoum said the parliament would remain in session until there was such an agreement.

The 325 members swore the oath of allegiance, but the session was then suspended until further notice.

It is a hung parliament with none of the four main factions in a position to command a majority, so more time will be needed for coalition negotiations.

After the national anthem and a Koranic recitation, the members of the new parliament stood to take the oath of allegiance, first in Arabic and then in Kurdish for members from the north.

The acting speaker then declared the session still open but suspended indefinitely.

BBC Baghdad correspondent Jim Muir says this is a device that has been used in the past to get around the constitutional requirement that the speaker of parliament be elected at its first session.

That job is part of the mix in a wider division of powers that cannot be done until there is agreement on the other major components, most importantly who will be the next prime minister, our correspondent says.

A lot of manoeuvring and wrangling will be needed to hammer out a power-sharing deal and the prediction is that it will take weeks, possibly months, our correpondent adds.

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