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Iraqi Lawmakers Pick New President

Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:02:07 +0000

iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- Iraq moved one step closer to forming a new government Thursday, as lawmakers overwhelmingly approved veteran Kurdish politician Fuad Masum as the country's next president.

Masum's appointment comes a week after parliament chose a new speaker. Lawmakers now have 15 days to select Iraq's next prime minister, without question the most crucial decision to be made as Iraq deals with the Sunni extremists who've taken over large swaths of the north and west.

According to the constitution, the prime minister must be a Shiite. Incumbent Nouri al-Maliki, who has been blamed for fomenting much of the political unrest in Iraq, wants to remain prime minister.

Maliki has resisted calls to form a unity government in order to better defeat the Islamic State, which has shown no signs of stopping its efforts to wrest control of Iraq from the central government in Baghdad.

Although returning Maliki to power would demonstrate some continuity, parliament also runs the risk of completely disenfranchising Sunnis and Kurds if he wins another term as prime minister.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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