Iraqi supreme court chief Midhat Mahmoud in Baghdad (File Photo - 01 Jun 2010)
Iraqi supreme court chief Midhat Mahmoud in Baghdad (File Photo - 01 Jun 2010)

Iraq's Supreme Court is ordering the country's parliament back to work, after the body stopped meeting seven months ago, due to a political crisis over forming the next government.

Iraq's top judicial body ruled the country's parliament must resume work, following a four-month hiatus. Parliament's acting speaker left the chamber in a state of semi-suspension after its first session last June.

Iraqi Supreme Court chief justice Midhat Mahmoud told a news conference at the court's headquarters the June action was illegal and unconstitutional:

He says that the decision taken to suspend the 2010 session of parliament at its first session (last June) was unlawful and the federal supreme court has decided to abrogate the decision and restore the chamber to session, as called for in article 55 of the constitution.

Acting parliament speaker Fouad Mahsoum, who was responsible for freezing the legislature's activities last June, says he is planning to set a meeting date, later this week.

The Iraqi parliament was technically required to vote to elect a new president, a new prime minister and a new speaker at its first session. The 325 lawmakers met only once since March 7th elections failed to give any party a ruling majority.

A lengthy political vacuum, which has prevented Iraqi leaders from choosing a new prime minister, prompted Sunni lawmakers to push for the move to suspend parliament in June, while back-room bargaining took place.

Outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, as well as other members of his government, have complained bitterly about the decision to suspend parliament. Important legislation and other matters of state remain in limbo.

The supreme court decision to order parliament to meet comes at a time when Mr. Maliki and rival former prime minister Iyad Allawi continue to lock horns over which of the two will form the next government.

Mr. Maliki has insisted repeatedly that he is close to forming a new government, while many analysts think he still lacks the votes needed to do so.

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