Abdel Latif Rashid elected president of Iraq after year-long gridlock
Despite a rocket attack on Baghdad's Green Zone, Iraqi lawmakers Thursday elected a new president in hopes of ending a year of political gridlock and violence in the war-scarred nation.
Iraqi Kurd Abdel Latif Rashid, 78, was elected as the new Iraqi head of state, replacing Barham Saleh, by the assembly in the capital's heavily fortified government and diplomatic district.
Rashid won more than 160 votes against 99 for the incumbent Saleh, an assembly official said.
Rashid named Shia politician Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as prime minister-designate, tasking him with reconciling feuding Shia factions and forming a government after a year of deadlock.
The 52-year-old Sudani, who has the backing of influential pro-Iran factions, vowed to form a government "as quickly as possible" but faces the daunting task of winning over their rivals, the millions of die-hard supporters of fiery cleric Moqtada Sadr.
When Sudani was first proposed in July, this sparked mass protests by backers of Sadr, whose followers breached the Green Zone and stormed parliament.
Under Iraq's power-sharing system, the president is a Kurd, the premier a Shia Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Sunni Muslim.
A new reminder of Iraq's troubles came Thursday as the lawmakers headed into parliament, when a barrage of nine Katyusha-style rockets rained down on the area, the security forces said.
At least 10 people were wounded, including six members of the security forces or bodyguards of lawmakers, as well as four civilians in a nearby district, a security official told AFP.
US Ambassador Alina Romanowski condemned the attack "in the strongest terms" on Twitter and warned that "the people of Iraq must resolve their political differences & grievances solely thru peaceful means.
"Attacks like these undermine democracy & trap Iraq in a perpetual cycle of violence."