New Iraqi parliament session cut short

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The Independent Online

Iraq's new parliament convened for just under 20 minutes yesterday in what was little more than a symbolic inaugural session because of unresolved differences over key government positions.

The sides are divided over the formation of a government. The Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is battling to keep his job after the rival Sunni-backed Iraqiya list narrowly won the most seats.

Mr Maliki watched as his chief rival, Ayad Allawi, who heads the Iraqiya bloc, and others took the oath of office. The rest of the session was taken up by singing the national anthem and readings from the Koran.