Iraq elects Kurdish lawmaker as president

UN secretary general tells politicians to drop sectarian differences and form a government


Iraq’s parliament elected a senior Kurdish lawmaker president yesterday, a significant step in a delayed process to create a government capable of uniting the country and countering insurgents threatening to march on Baghdad.

Visiting United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon said Iraq’s survival as a nation was at risk and told politicians to drop sectarian differences and form an inclusive government to combat the “existential threat”.

As Fouad Masoum was being elected president in Baghdad, a deadly gun and bomb attack on a bus carrying prisoners to the capital killed 52 prisoners and nine policemen, justice ministry sources said.

“Iraq is facing an existential threat but it can be overcome through the formation of a thoroughly inclusive government - a government that can address the concerns of all communities, including security, political, social and economic matters,” Mr Ban told a news conference with Shi’ite prime minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad.

Hours after he spoke, two car bombs exploded in central Baghdad, killing 17 people and wounding 33, police and medical sources said. – (Reuters)