Iraqi Lawmakers Meet to Elect President Amid Kurdish Dispute

Baghdad - Iraq's lawmakers met to elect a new president on Tuesday after a dispute between the two main Kurdish parties delayed the vote, eventually forcing them to choose among 20 nominees, a lawmaker said.

Under an unofficial agreement dating back to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Iraq's presidency — a largely ceremonial role — is held by a Kurd, while the prime minister is Shiite and the parliament speaker is Sunni.

Shiite lawmaker Hamid al-Moussawi said the lawmakers were supposed to vote Monday, but delayed the session for nearly 24 hours after the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan were unable to agree on a candidate.

The parliament speaker eventually decided to hold a vote among all 20 nominees. It was unclear when the result would be announced.

The KDP's nominee is Fuad Hussein, who served as chief of staff for the former Kurdish regional president Masoud Barzani, while the PUK nominee is the veteran politician Barham Salih.

Iraq held elections in May. The new president will have 15 days to task the nominee of the largest parliamentary bloc with forming a new government. The prime minister-designate will have 30 days to submit his cabinet to parliament.

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