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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs