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Iraq’s new parliament holds its first session 3 months after vote

Newly elected lawmakers from the Sadr political bloc ​prepare to attend the first parliament session, in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan)
Newly elected lawmakers from the Sadr political bloc ​prepare to attend the first parliament session, in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan)

Iraq’s new parliament holds its first session, nearly three months after Iraqis voted in a general election whose results have been contested by powerful Iran-backed factions.

The meeting ushers in what is likely to be a lengthy period of political wrangling among rival groups to choose a new president and prime minister.

As leader of the biggest bloc, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr — a maverick leader remembered for leading an insurgency against US forces after the 2003 invasion — has the upper hand in choosing the new prime minister. But he will have to manage tensions with rival Shiite groups who continue to reject the election results and are demanding to have a say in the government formation process.

Lawmakers from al-Sadr’s bloc arrive early to the parliament building in Baghdad, donning white shrouds Muslims use to wrap their dead in a sign of their willingness to die for him. Al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s most influential political leaders, was the biggest winner in the Oct. 10 vote, securing 73 out of Parliament’s 329 seats.

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