Iraqi lawmakers on Saturday elected the former al-Anbar provincial governor, Mohammed al-Halbousi, as the new speaker of the Iraqi parliament.

Iran Press/Middle East: 169 Iraqi lawmakers voted for Mohammed al-Halbousi during Saturday's session and 89 voted for former defense minister Khalid al-Obeidi, the first step in forming a new Iraqi government, four months after national elections were held in May.

Mohamed Ali Zeini, the temporary speaker, had declared a list of four Sunni final runners, including former defense minister Khaled al-Obeidi, current Iraqi Vice President Usama al-Nujaifi, former Anbar governor Mohamed al-Halbusi, and former MP Raad al-Dahlaki.

Halbusi had served as a member of the parliament’s finance committee in the last session.

The parliament failed earlier this month to elect a new speaker due to arguments between political alliances over who had secured the largest bloc that is supposed to form the new government.

Based on a political agreement adopted since the ouster of late dictator and tyrant, Saddam Hussein, Kurds assume Iraq’s presidency, Sunnis are entitled to parliament speaker, and Shias hold the prime minister’s office.

Iraq's parliamentary elections, the first since the defeat of Daesh / ISIS, were held last May amid judicial challenges that prompted a recount of votes.

Halbusi is the leader of a minor list that is allied with the Islah and Emaar (Reform and Reconstruction), which comprises Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s and Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s lists.

Observers believe that assembling a government is a difficult task which may take many more weeks, and involves political bargaining between various political blocs.

Analysts say the next prime minster will face huge challenges, such as rebuilding a country shattered by years of  war against foreign-backed Daesh terrorists , as well as years of occupation by US military forces.

Western-created and Western-trained Daesh terrorists unleashed a campaign of death and destruction in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks. Iraqi army soldiers and allied fighters then launched operations to eliminate the terrorist group, and reclaim lost territory.

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