BAGHDAD: Iraq’s top court has confirmed the reelection of Mohammed Al-Halbussi as parliament speaker, following appeals against its conduct, paving the way toward the formation of a new government.
Hours later, rockets fell some 500 meters from Al-Halbussi’s home in the Gurma district of Anbar province, in what a security source told AFP was an attack that sought to target him.
Two lawmakers had appealed Al-Halbussi’s reelection as speaker, a position historically reserved for Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority, during parliament’s opening session earlier in January which was overshadowed by disputes between rival blocs from the Shiite majority.
“The Federal Supreme Court rejected the appeal of two MPs who demanded the annulment of the inaugural session of parliament on Jan. 9,” in which Al-Halbussi was reelected, said presiding judge Jassim Mohammed Aboud.
The ruling will allow the resumption of parliament sessions, and along with them deliberations over the selection of a new president, who will in turn choose the next prime minister, to be approved by the legislature.
Lawmakers have until Feb. 8 to elect a president — a post historically allocated to a Kurd.
But negotiations between parties and coalitions seeking to form a parliamentary majority have been marked by tensions, particularly between key Shiite currents seeking to exert their influence.
Both the Coordination Framework and another bloc formed by firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr claim to have the majority needed to elect a president.
The legislature opened earlier this month to furious arguments between the rival factions.
Amid the debate, Mahmud Al-Mashhadani — the oldest member of parliament who was therefore chairing the opening session — was taken ill and rushed to hospital.
When the session resumed an hour later, lawmakers reelected Al-Halbussi of the Sunni Taqadom party as speaker.
Appeals against the speaker’s reelection were filed by Mashhadani and another MP, Bassem Khachan.
After Wednesday’s rocket attack, two wounded children were “taken to hospital in Gurma,” Iraqi police said in a statement.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Several grenade attacks have in recent days targeted political figures from parties that could team up with Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr to form a parliamentary coalition in the wake of Iraq’s October legislative elections.
Sadr, whose bloc took the largest share of seats, is seeking to build a coalition bringing together Taqadom — Al-Halbussi’s party — a second Sunni party and a Kurdish grouping.