Iraq's parliament session resumed after an earlier disruption, as 200 lawmakers picked incumbent Parliament Speaker Mohamed al Halbousi for a second term.

Al Halbousi, whose Sunni party came in second with 37 seats, is the former governor of Anbar province and was supported by al Sadr, Kurdish and Sunni groups.
Al Halbousi, whose Sunni party came in second with 37 seats, is the former governor of Anbar province and was supported by al Sadr, Kurdish and Sunni groups. (AFP)

Iraq’s new parliament has reelected its speaker for a second term, the first step toward forming a new government after a general election whose results have been contested by powerful Iran-backed factions.

200 lawmakers picked incumbent Parliament Speaker Mohamed al Halbousi for a second term, while 14 voted for the eldest member of parliament Mahmud al Mashhadani on Sunday.

Al Halbousi, whose Sunni party came in second with 37 seats, is the former governor of Anbar province and was supported by Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr, and Kurdish and Sunni groups.

The meeting on Sunday was marked by disarray, with al Mashhadani, being evacuated to the hospital apparently due to the stress.

The chaotic meeting ushers in what is likely to be a lengthy period of political wrangling among rival groups to choose a new president and prime minister. 

Fiery first session

Chaos erupted briefly in the chamber, during which lawmakers crowded around al Mashhadani, who was leading the session. 

Within minutes, the 73-year-old lawmaker was carried out of the room by security forces and bundled in an ambulance that took him to hospital, where he was visited by some of the heads of political and militia factions. 

The lawmaker appeared to be in good condition, according to witnesses who later saw him there.

Following the disruption, the parliament session resumed, although the issue of the majority was not immediately resolved.

READ MORE: Iraq’s supreme court rejects appeal contesting election results 

Upper hand in parliament

As leader of the biggest bloc, al Sadr has the upper hand in forming a new government. 

Earlier on Sunday, lawmakers from al Sadr’s bloc arrived early to the parliament building in Baghdad, donning white shrouds Muslims use to wrap their dead in a sign of their willingness to die for him.

Al Sadr, one of Iraq’s most influential political leaders, was the biggest winner in the October 10 vote, securing 73 out of Parliament’s 329 seats.

According to Iraq’s constitution, the largest bloc in parliament has the right to choose the new prime minister. 

But he will have to manage tensions with rival Shia groups who continue to reject the election results and are demanding to have a say in the government formation process.

READ MORE: Sadr will need to play chess to form Iraq's government

Source: AP