|Iraqi parliament elects Salim al-Jubouri as new speaker||
Iraqi lawmakers broke their deadlock Tuesday and elected a new speaker of parliament, taking the first formal step toward forming a new government that is widely seen as crucial to confronting the terrorists who have overrun much of the country.
After voting behind closed doors, the legislature tallied the results on a white board wheeled into the hall that showed Sunni lawmaker Salim al-Jubouri winning with 194 votes in the 328-seat parliament. A second candidate, Shorooq al-Abayachi, received 19 votes. There were 60 abstentions, AP reported.
Still, it was not clear whether lawmakers had reached a larger deal on the most contentious decision - the choice for prime minister. The incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki, has ruled the country since 2006 but is under intense pressure to step aside, but he is insisting he be picked for a third term.
According to the constitution, parliament now has 30 days to elect a president, who will then have 15 days to ask the leader of the largest bloc in the legislature to form a government. Then a prime minister will be picked.
Under an informal agreement that took hold after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the speaker's chair goes to a Sunni, the presidency to a Kurd and the prime minister's post to a Shia.
‘Barzani disappointed in Ankara’
Meanwhile, media reported on Tuesday that Turkish officials have told Massoud Barzani that the timing for a push for independence is not right.
The president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region met Turkish leaders Monday as Ankara keeps a close eye on moves for an independent Iraqi Kurdistan amid the chaos in its conflict-torn neighbor.
Barzani met President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital Ankara in separate meetings.
The visit was Barzani’s first to Ankara amid the ongoing uncertainty in Iraq.
The visit comes as lightening gains by the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq have alarmed countries in the region and sparked calls for Kurdish autonomy to counter the radical Islamist threat.
In an interview this month, Barzani said Iraq's Kurds would hold an independence referendum within months, adding that the time was right for a vote as Iraq was already effectively divided by ISIL's actions in Iraq.
Army launches new assault to retake Tikrit
Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces advanced into militant-held Tikrit on Tuesday in an assault aimed at revitalizing flagging efforts to retake the city, officials said.
Security forces began the attack on Tuesday morning and succeeded in retaking government facilities in the city's south, AFP reported.
"Iraqi forces began a military operation to liberate the city of Tikrit and our forces were able to control the southern part of the city," Ahmed Abdullah Juburi, the governor of Salaheddin province of which Tikrit is the capital, said.
An army colonel said the police academy and a hospital had been retaken, and Juburi confirmed those facilities were in government hands, along with the governorate headquarters.
A major operation to retake Tikrit began more than two weeks ago, but it bogged down south of the city, which is the home town of executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Militants seized Tikrit on June 11 as part of a sweeping terrorist offensive that has overrun large areas of five provinces since it began last month.
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|Last Updated on 15 July 2014 15:27|