Iraq’s largest bloc in parliament has announced that it will not attend Monday’s session to elect the president, making a vote unlikely.
The largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament, led by Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr, has announced a boycott of a session called next week to elect the country’s president.
The 73-member bloc’s parliamentary chief, Hassan al Adhari, told a news conference on Saturday they will not attend Monday’s session in the 329-seat house, making a vote unlikely although technically a quorum could be reached.
“We decided to freeze negotiations with political blocs regarding the formation of the next government until further notice,” al Adhari said.
“The Sadr’s bloc members will not attend the parliamentary session to elect the president of the republic except for first deputy speaker of parliament, Hakim al Zamili,” al Adhari stated, without giving further details.
The decision to boycott Monday’s session comes amid deep differences between Shia blocs over the formation of the new Iraqi government.
‘Not a consensus candidate’
Incumbent President Barham Salih, of the PUK, and the candidate of the KDP, Hoshyar Zebari, are the frontrunners for the post.
The latter’s candidacy has stirred controversy due to years-old corruption accusations against him in court that led to his 2016 dismissal from the post of finance minister.
After having served for a decade as foreign minister followed by two years as finance minister, parliament fired Zebari in September 2016, notably over charges that $1.8 million of public funds were diverted to pay for airline tickets for his personal security detail.
Zebari has always denied any corruption accusations.
Al Sadr’s Sairoon alliance emerged the biggest winner in the October 10 elections, with 73 seats in the 329-member parliament, followed by Mohammed al Halbousi’s Taqaddum (progress) bloc with 37 seats.