News / Middle East

Fouad Massoum Elected Iraqi President

Fouad Massoum speaks during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, July 24, 2014.
Fouad Massoum speaks during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, July 24, 2014.
Edward Yeranian

The Iraqi parliament elected 76 year-old Kurdish lawmaker Fouad Massoum to be president Thursday, breaking a major political log-jam. Contentions remain, however, over who will fill the more important post of prime minister.  

Kurdish lawmaker and Islamic legal scholar Fouad Massoum was elected president Thursday with a plurality of 211 votes in the second round of balloting. Rival Hussein Moussawi, who was not present, received only 17 votes.

Massoum succeeds President Jalal Talabani, who suffered a stroke last year and only just returned to Baghdad.  Both men belong to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party.

The vote to elect Massoum took place after numerous procedural issues and attempts by various politicians to delay the election. One woman lawmaker demanded that Iraq's new president not be opposed to the death penalty, unlike outgoing President Talabani.  Another insisted that Iraq's new president not hold dual citizenship.

Massoum took the oath of office in front of the head of Iraq's supreme court, repeating that he would carry out his legal duties with devotion, defending the independence and sovereignty of Iraq, protecting the interests of its people and its territory, its resources and its federalist, democratic system.

In a brief message to parliament after his election, Massoum thanked lawmakers for their confidence and vowed to protect the constitution. He went on to stress that he now faces major security, political and economic tasks. He asked for time to address parliament in the future to discuss what policies he plans to implement.

The vote came amid another day of violence in which more than 50 prisoners, being evacuated from Taji Prison, were killed in an attack by unknown assailants. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but several Sunni politicians claimed that Shi'ite militias were behind the killings.

The election of a new president represented a positive step in the long process of breaking a lengthy political log-jam. Lawmakers must now select several vice presidents, before going on to the more momentous task of selecting a prime minister.

Outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refuses to give up his post, despite pleas from rivals and members of his own political bloc to do so. Maliki insists that he won more seats in this spring's parliamentary election and should be allowed to form a new government.

Middle East analyst Nadim Shehadi of Chatham House in London tells VOA that the political situation in Iraq remains a “mess,” but that things do appear to be moving forward:

“The system is - I won't say functioning - but at least it operates. So, there is still discussion, there's still compromise, (but) there are huge problems, of course. Eventually, what should happen in Iraq is that they should agree on a system of power sharing where all three main communities feel secure and don't feel that they're being marginalized," said Shehadi.

Shehadi went on to point out that the alternative, in the absence of a political consensus, was the break up of Iraq, but he said he did not think that is a “real option.”

Prime Minister Maliki also stressed, in a joint press conference with visiting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, that despite all of its problems, Iraq was moving forward with its political process, and had made considerable progress in moving towards democracy in the 11 years since the ouster of longtime president Saddam Hussein.  

 

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid