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Iraq lawmakers move back a key session

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The Kurds could emerge as kingmakers
  • A government hasn't been formed in months

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's parliament has rescheduled a key session next week to give political blocs more time to discuss an initiative that would end the war-weary nation's long political impasse.

Kurdish lawmaker Mahmood Othman told CNN that a vote for a parliamentary speaker was postponed from Monday to Thursday so lawmakers can review a plan from Kurdish politicians to help jump-start government formation. Othman did not disclose any details of the Kurdish proposal.

Iraqi political blocs have failed to form a government since the March 7 elections, a state of affairs that has increased tensions in the ethnically and religiously diverse country.

U.S. and Iraqi officials believe the stalemate could further destabilize the country, which has endured a recent wave of bombings in Baghdad.

Acting speaker Fouad Massoum asked lawmakers to vote Monday for a parliament speaker and two deputies, a move that could help get the political process back in motion.

There has been a delay in forming a government because the various factions haven't been able to agree on who will fill key government posts. But constitutionally, parliament -- known as the Council of Representatives -- must elect a speaker and two deputies in its first session.

In the March election, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has a lot of Shiite support, won 89 seats but fell behind former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's al-Iraqiyya bloc -- which has support among many Sunnis. It received 91 seats.

A 163-seat majority out of 325 seats is needed to form a government but the two have not been able to secure enough seats with partners to form a coalition.

The two leaders have been jockeying for power ever since and the Kurds, who have more than 50 seats in parliament, have emerged as possible kingmakers.