Iraq fails again to elect new president

Iraq fails again to elect new president
Supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr gather inside the Iraqi parliament in the capital Baghdad, ahead of the country’s presidential election, on Saturday. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 26 March 2022

Iraq fails again to elect new president

Iraq fails again to elect new president
  • Parliament had issued a final list of 40 candidates for the post
  • A lack of a quorum held up the vote for the second time since February

BAGHDAD: Iraqi lawmakers failed again on Saturday to elect a new president for the country due to a lack of quorum in parliament, keeping the country mired in political paralysis.
Parliament had issued a final list of 40 candidates for the post, a largely ceremonial role that by convention is reserved for a member of Iraq’s Kurdish minority.
The contest pits Barham Saleh, the incumbent and member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, against Rebar Ahmed of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the PUK’s rival.
But a lack of a quorum — set at two-thirds of the house’s 329 members — held up the vote for the second time since February, deepening war-scarred Iraq’s political uncertainty.
Only 202 lawmakers showed up for the latest vote, a parliamentary official told AFP on condition of anonymity, and a new session had to be scheduled for Wednesday.
The postponement exacerbates Iraq’s political problems because it is the task of the president to formally name a prime minister, who must be backed by an absolute majority in parliament.
On February 13, Iraq’s supreme court ruled out a presidential bid by KDP-backed veteran politician Hoshyar Zebari, after a complaint filed against him over years-old, untried corruption charges.
Iraqi politics were thrown into turmoil following last October’s general election, which was marred by record-low turnout, post-vote threats and violence, and a months-long delay until the final results were confirmed.
Intense negotiations among political groups have since failed to form a majority parliamentary coalition to agree on a new prime minister to succeed Mustafa Al-Kadhemi.
The largest political bloc, led by firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, had backed Zebari for the presidency and has now thrown its weight behind Ahmed.
A first vote in parliament on February 7 failed to materialize as it was widely boycotted amid the Zebari legal wrangle.
Saturday’s failed session underscored the sharp divide in Iraqi politics between Sadr, the general election’s big winner, and the powerful Coordination Framework, which had called for a boycott.
The Coordination Framework includes the pro-Iran Fatah Alliance — the political arm of the Shiite-led former paramilitary group Hashed Al-Shaabi.
With the support of Sunni and Kurdish parties, Sadr wants the post of prime minister to go to his cousin Jaafar Sadr, Iraq’s ambassador to Britain, once the question of the four-year presidency has been settled.
Ahead of Saturday’s debacle, political analyst Ihsan Al-Shammari had said that, even if the vote had gone ahead as planned, the presidency would “not be decided from the first round.”
The candidate who wins the largest number of votes must secure a two-thirds majority in the second round of votes in parliament to win the presidency.


Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe
Updated 18 August 2022

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe
  • The public prosecution questioned 33 witnesses, including the 16 people injured

CAIRO: The fire that broke out in the Abu Sefein Church in Egypt on Sunday was not deliberate, according to an investigation by the public prosecution.
The cause of the fire, which killed 41 people, was a defect with an electric generator in the church after it was turned on due to a power outage.
The public prosecution questioned 33 witnesses, including the 16 people injured, who said they heard the sound of electric charges emanating from inside the church, and the fire broke out after that. Prosecutor General Hamada El-Sawy said the victims had died of smoke inhalation.


Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire
Updated 18 August 2022

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire
  • Blaze in Egyptian city of Giza killed 41 people, injured 16
  • ‘We thank God for all those who contributed to containing this crisis’

CAIRO: The Egyptian people showed their genuine nature with regard to Sunday’s fire in Abu Sefein Church that killed 41 people and injured 16 in the city of Giza, said the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Pope Tawadros II thanked everyone who contributed to containing the blaze, and offered condolences to the family of a priest who died.

“He was a beloved priest until his last breath, and we console the people of the church, both adults and children, knowing that they are with Christ, and that is very much better,” the pope said.

“We thank God for all those who contributed to containing this crisis, including the concerned agencies, officials, the people and neighbors.”

He said he is scheduled to meet in the next few days with the victims’ families, adding that Christian and Muslim communities in various countries have offered their condolences. The Interior Ministry said an electrical fault had caused the fire.


Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy
Updated 18 August 2022

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy
  • "According to our information, SV KONSTANTIN has docked in Syria," the embassy said
  • It said the ship was carrying "grains that were plundered and illegally transported by the Russian occupation authorities"

BEIRUT: A Russian cargo ship allegedly carrying stolen Ukrainian grain has reached Syria, Kyiv’s embassy in Beirut said Thursday, the latest in a series of contested shipments arriving in the war-torn country.
“According to our information, SV KONSTANTIN has docked in Syria,” the embassy said in a statement to AFP.
It said the ship was carrying “grains that were plundered and illegally transported by the Russian occupation authorities,” adding that the vessel was initially destined for the Lebanese port of Tripoli.
Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russian forces of ransacking its grain warehouses since they invaded the country in late February.
The embassy’s statement came as another cargo ship carrying the first shipment of grain allowed to leave Ukraine under a UN-backed deal reportedly unloaded its cargo at the Syrian port of Tartus, which is managed by a Russian firm.
The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel Razoni was expected to arrive in Lebanon, but the shipment’s five-month delay prompted the Lebanese buyer to cancel the deal once the ship was already at sea, Ukrainian officials had said.
According to Samir Madani, co-founder of oil shipping monitoring website TankerTrackers.com, the vessel docked in Tartus earlier this week.
Satellite imagery appeared to show that the ship — which was carrying 26,000 tons of corn — was unloading its cargo, Madani tweeted on Thursday.
Earlier this month, a Syrian-flagged ship was briefly seized by Lebanese authorities following similar claims by the Ukrainian embassy that it was laden with stolen cargo.
Lebanon later released the Laodicea vessel after investigations failed to prove it carried stolen goods, drawing criticism from Kyiv’s embassy.
The Laodicea started unloading its cargo at Tartus on August 8, according to Syrian state media.
Syria is a staunch ally of Russia, which intervened in the country’s civil war in 2015 to support President Bashar Assad’s government.
Moscow has lent Damascus very limited amounts of financial aid, but it has supplied Syria with wheat as a form of assistance.
The Syrian government relies on Moscow for the bulk of its wheat imports.


Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation
Updated 18 August 2022

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation
  • Sajjan said: “I was impressed by the Egyptian vision of empowering women.”

CAIRO: Nevin Al-Kabbaj, Egypt’s minister of social solidarity, met with Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s minister of international development, to discuss cooperation in various fields.
Al-Kabbaj reviewed her ministry’s programs and activities, including those focusing on the rights of women and the disabled.
Sajjan said: “I was impressed by the Egyptian vision of empowering women.”
Al-Kabbaj expressed her appreciation for the efforts of the Canadian Embassy and the Canadian Development Agency to support development in Egypt and her ministry’s economic-empowerment projects.


Egypt sends aid to flood-hit Sudan

Egypt sends aid to flood-hit Sudan
Updated 18 August 2022

Egypt sends aid to flood-hit Sudan

Egypt sends aid to flood-hit Sudan
  • Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed or damaged by torrential rains and floods, according to the Sudanese Civil Defense

CAIRO: Egypt has sent five military transport planes loaded with tons of relief aid to Sudan, where floods have killed 77 people and injured more than 30.

A spokesman for Egypt’s military said the aid comes “in the framework of Egypt’s support and solidarity with the brotherly Sudanese people.”

The aid includes tents, blankets, foodstuffs, medicines and medical supplies provided by the defense and health ministries.

Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed or damaged by torrential rains and floods, according to the Sudanese Civil Defense.

Heavy rains usually fall in Sudan between May and September, a period when the country experiences flash floods that damage housing, infrastructure and crops.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 38,000 people across Sudan have been affected by rains and floods since the start of this season.