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Iraq's new president officially assumes power 

Iraq's new president officially assumes power 
2 min read
17 October, 2022
After more than a year of political stalemate, Abdel Latif Rashid, Iraq's new president took office in a ceremony in Baghdad. 
Iraq's new President Abdullatif Mohammed Jamal Rashid who was elected president by the deputies in Iraq last week, greets the crowd during the official ceremony before taking office at the as-Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq on 17 October 2022. [Getty]

Abdel Latif Rashid, Iraq's new president, formally assumed power on Monday in a formal handover ceremony at Al Salam Palace in Baghdad, which Iraq's outgoing president Barham Saleh did not attend. 

The inauguration of Rashid comes after more than a year of political deadlock and armed clashes between militants of Iraq's firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Iran-backed Shia militias. 

Rashid, 78, from the northern city of Sulaymaniyah, in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, won 162 against 99 votes for Saleh on 13 October in the Iraqi council of representatives.

"The previous stage was difficult for all. I thank the marjaeya (religious jurists) and representatives of the people for entrusting me. I will spare no effort to protect the constitution and resolve the current issues," Iraq's state media quoted Rashid as saying in the ceremony. "I hope the new Iraqi government will be formed as soon as possible. I will try to establish good relations with the neighbouring countries and the international community. I will soon announce my agenda in the Iraqi presidency to the Iraqi people."

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Saleh was the formal candidate of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the race for Iraq's presidency, and Rashid ran as an independent, although he is from the PUK. 

A close source from Saleh's group, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The New Arab that the outgoing president will not participate in the formal handover ceremony. 

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), PUK's rival, withdrew its candidate for the presidency in the last hour and voted for Rashid. 
Iraq's presidency is allocated to Kurds in the post-2003 Iraq's sectarian power-sharing system known as Muhasasa. Mr Rashid finished his higher education in Engineering from the United Kingdom universities and became Iraq's minister of water resources from 2003 to 2010.  

The late Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Rashid's brother-in-law, appointed the latter as a senior advisor to the PUK. Iraq's first lady Shanaz Ahmed also had senior positions within the PUK.