BAGHDAD, July 24 Iraq's parliament elected
senior Kurdish lawmaker Fouad Masoum as president on Thursday, a
long-awaited step in creating a new government capable of
countering a Sunni Muslim insurgency.
Iraq's politicians have been in deadlock over forming a new
government since an election in April. The next step, choosing a
prime minister, may prove far more difficult.
Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ruled since the
election in a caretaker capacity, defying demands from the
Sunnis and Kurds that he step aside for a less divisive figure.
Even some Shi'ites oppose his bid for a third term.
Critics say Maliki is a polarising figure who has stirred up
sectarian tensions that have worsened since Sunni insurgents
swept through north and west Iraq last month, seizing large
swathes of territory and declaring a "caliphate".
A shooting and bombing attack on a bus near Baghdad killed
52 prisoners and nine policemen on Thursday, Ministry of Justice
sources said, highlighting the need for political leaders to
bury their differences and bring stability.
(Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)