Iraq's deadlocked parliament ended its second session after just 30 minutes Sunday without making any progress toward forming a new government that can unite the country and confront the militant blitz that has seized control of a huge chunk of the country, Reuters reported.
The legislature is under pressure to quickly choose a new speaker of parliament, president and prime minister - the first steps toward a new government. The international community has urged lawmakers to overcome their divisions, while the United Nations has warned of chaos if the political impasse drags on for too long.
Hopes had been raised that lawmakers might at least vote on a speaker of parliament after Sunni blocs announced late Saturday that they had agreed on a candidate for the post, Salim al-Jubouri. But acting parliament speaker Mahdi al-Hafidh was forced to adjourn Sunday's brief meeting, he said, "due to the absence of any agreement on the names of the nominees for the three posts."
"There are still deep differences," he said. "We need more discussions to agree on the names."
He scheduled the next session for Tuesday.
Attendance is a perennial problem for the Iraqi legislature, with parliament not even able to reach quorum for an emergency session called at the height of the militant offensive last month.
And the previous session of parliament earlier this month ended in mayhem, with MPs trading barbs and so few returning after a break aimed at cooling tempers that the quorum was lost.
UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov has warned Iraqi politicians that "failure to move forward on electing a new speaker, a new president and a new government risks plunging the country into chaos."
"It will only serve the interests of those who seek to divide the people of Iraq and destroy their chances for peace and prosperity," he said.
Iraq launches major operation in Baquba
Meanwhile, Iraqi army troops launched a major anti-terrorist operation to clear militants from northeastern areas of Baquba, the provincial capital of Diyala, a senior army commander said.
Army troops launched a massive mopping-up operation against militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group in Muqdadiyah area, 40 kilometers northeast of Baquba, the senior army commander Jamil Shemri told al-Sumaria News.
"Iraqi army troops backed by tribal fighters and air force have targeted ISIL hideouts in the area, in particular in the nearby farms," Shemri added.
Saddam deputy praises ISIL
In another development, the wanted deputy of executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein praised the so-called Islamic State militants as heroes in an unauthenticated audio message released on Saturday.
The recording features a 15-minute speech in a raspy, quavering voice purported to be that of 72-year-old Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who was Iraq's vice-president when U.S.-led coalition forces invaded in 2003.
The voice in the recording, which could not be immediately confirmed to be that of Douri, praised "some groups of (insurgents) Ansar al-Sunna and, in addition to these, the heroes and knights of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State."
Saddam's regime was secular and Izzat al-Douri is believed to be the leader of Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshbandi (JRTN), or Naqshbandiya order, a group of Sufi inspiration long seen as a rival to militant groups such as IS.
The latest such message attributed to Saddam's red-haired right-hand man, one of the former regime's most recognizable figures, was released in January 2013.
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