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Iraqi Parliament Nears Agreement On New Speaker

BAGHDAD -- The issue of electing a new speaker of parliament will be settled within the next few days, members of parliament from various factions have said.

Abbas al-Bayati, a leading member of the Shi'ite-led United Iraqi Alliance, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq that by April 18 a nominee for speaker will have been agreed upon by the major factions.

Bayati added that the new speaker will be installed by consensus rather than by a ruling from the Constitutional Court "because it is a political rather than a legal issue."

A spokesman for the Sunni-led Accordance Front, Salim al-Jaburi, said that on the basis of talks held with other blocs, the front's candidate, Ayad al-Samarraei, will almost certainly win in the first round of voting.

Jaburi pointed out that all the major factions agree on the need to finally elect a speaker so that parliament can focus on other important issues.

In the last round of voting on February 19, Samarraei was two votes short of being elected.