Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says he will call on the country's new parliament to hold its first session on March 12.

Mr. Talabani told reporters in Baghdad Monday he chose the date because it is the last day the constitution allows for holding the session.

The move by the Iraqi president starts a 60-day period during which the legislature must elect a new head of state and approve a prime minister and Cabinet.

Iraq is in the midst of a political crisis, with many parties deeply divided over the main Shi'ite bloc's decision to name Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to a new term. A coalition of Sunni Arab, Kurdish and some secular politicians launched a drive last week to block al-Jaafari from continuing as head of government.

In attacks Monday, a senior Iraqi army general was assassinated as he drove through Baghdad. Car bombs in the capital killed three policemen and a civilian. And in Baquba, another car bomb killed six people.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.