Iraq's deadlocked parliament today postponed its next session until mid-August, prolonging the country's political impasse despite urgent calls for a new government that can confront Sunni extremists who have overrun much of the country.
The new legislature held its first session since April elections last week, but failed to make any headway on selecting new a new prime minister, president and other leaders.
Lawmakers were expected to meet again Tuesday for a second session, but called off that meeting since no progress was made over the past week untangling the political situation.
The parliament said in a statement today that "after discussions with the heads of the blocs and concerned parties" that the next session will be held instead on Aug. 12. It expressed hope that "another chance will be available for more dialogue and discussions to arrange that meeting."
The main sticking point is the post of prime minister, which holds most of the power in Iraq.
Incumbent Nouri al-Maliki, whose State of Law bloc won the largest share of seat in April's election, has vowed he will not abandon his bid for a third consecutive term. But he didn't win a majority in parliament and so needs allies to form a government, setting the stage for what now appears to be protracted political negotiations.
Al-Maliki is facing pressure to step aside, in part because many in the country accuse him of monopolising power and contributing to the current crisis by failing to promote reconciliation with the country's Sunni minority.