Baghdad: More than 100 candidates are vying for the Iraqi presidency as lawmakers prepare to choose the nation `s new leadership, and build an inclusive government while the country is severely divided by sectarian rifts and grappling with an ongoing Islamist insurgency.
"Over 100 people nominated themselves for the presidency in a legitimate competition and all the candidates have submitted their resumes," Xinhua quoted newly-elected Speaker Salim al-Jubouri as saying at a press conference in Baghdad Tuesday.
Iraq`s power-sharing consensus stipulates that the president should be a member of the Kurdish minority, while the speakership is reserved for a Sunni Arab and the prime minister for a Shiite.
The agreement has been supported by the leading Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish political parties, though it has not been incorporated in the country`s constitution.
It now seems that most of legislators, who belong to the leading political blocs, are likely to respect the power-sharing agreement by choosing a Kurdish candidate as the new Iraqi president.
Though Kurdish leaders have not revealed their final decisions, they are expected to name their candidate in the coming days. Media reports indicate Fuad Masoum, head of the Kurdish Alliance in Iraq`s parliament, and Barham Salih, deputy secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, were among the candidates nominated.
The announcement came days after parliament`s election of Speaker Salim al-Jubouri. The country`s constitution requires a new president to be chosen 30 days after the speaker is elected.
Around two weeks after the new head of state is elected, the bloc with the most lawmakers will nominate a prime minister that will be responsible for forming a new government.
Early in July, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to withdraw his candidacy despite wide-ranging criticism for his domestic policy and the mishandling of the Sunni onslaught, and, because of his stubbornness, a political deadlock is well expected.
With the country`s ever deepening security crisis, forming a new and inclusive unity government is more vital for Iraq than ever as Iraq`s leaders struggle to counter the Sunni Islamist insurgency that has snatched large swathes of the country from the central government`s control.
Iraq has been witnessing its worst violence in years. Well over a month ago armed Sunni insurgents, spearheaded by the Islamic State, an Al Qaeda breakaway group, launched a surprise offensive that stunned the world as the militants captured large part of the country`s northern and western territories after Iraqi security forces fled their posts, abandoning their military equipment and leaving behind thousands of civilians.