Iraq’s parliament elected Kurdish politician Abdul Latif Rashid as president on Thursday. After being elected, he nominated Mohammad Shia al-Sudani as Prime Minister. With this, the country ended a year of deadlock after the national elections in October last year. News from Reuters.

The president of Iraq is essentially a ceremonial post. Traditionally a Kurd holds this position. But the parliamentary vote is a crucial step towards forming a new government, something the country’s politicians have been failing to do since the election.

Rashid (78) was Iraq’s Minister of Water Resources from 2003-2010. Rashid, a British-educated engineer, won a second term against former president Barham Salih.

After winning the presidency, he invited Sudani to be the nominee of the largest parliamentary bloc known as the Coalition of Iran’s Allied Parties. Sudani, 52, previously served as Iraq’s minister of human rights as well as minister of labor and social affairs.

Iraq operates under a power-sharing arrangement to avoid sectarian conflict. This is why the president of Iraq is a Kurd, the prime minister is a Shiite and the speaker of its parliament is a Sunni.

Sudan now has 30 days to form a cabinet and present it to parliament for approval.

Thursday’s election was held shortly after nine rockets landed around the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, a military statement said. The vote was the fourth presidential election attempt this year.

According to security and medical sources, at least 10 people, including members of the security forces, were injured in the attack. A similar attack took place last month during the election of Parliament Speaker.

Thursday’s parliamentary session comes a year after a previous election. In previous elections, popular Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr won a landslide victory but failed to garner support to form a government.

Sadr withdrew 73 of his lawmakers in August and announced his retirement from politics. His enraged followers attacked the government palace in Baghdad and fought with rival Shiite groups. The incident was one of the worst violence in Baghdad in living memory.

Sadr has a record of taking extreme measures, including fighting against US forces, leaving the cabinet and protesting against the government. Many fear protests by his supporters. But he is yet to announce his next move.

Security personnel deployed checkpoints across the city on Thursday. Various bridges and squares have also been closed and several bridges leading to the Green Zone have been barricaded.

Iran-backed parties now dominate parliament, said Hamdi Malik, an expert on Shia militias in Iraq at the Washington Institute. They have a friendly judiciary and they dominate the executive (authority)…they have to benefit from it. One way to benefit from this is to try and do it slowly or suddenly. oust the Sadrists from the state machinery. The nature of their work will depend on the reaction of the headquarters.

Iraq operates under a power-sharing arrangement to avoid sectarian conflict. This is why the president of Iraq is a Kurd, the prime minister is a Shiite and the speaker of its parliament is a Sunni.

(October 14)