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Iraqi Parliament Reelects Talabani President

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani
Iraq's parliament today reelected Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as president despite a walkout by a Sunni-backed bloc.

Talabani was immediately sworn in. His election was part of a deal agreed by lawmakers to end an eight-month deadlock over who would lead the new government.

Talabani said he will ask incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to form the next government.

The parliament session then adjourned.

Maliki now has 30 days to form the government.

Lawmakers from the Sunni-backed Al-Iraqiyah alliance had demanded that before parliament vote on the president, it vote to formally end the de-Baathification program purging former members of Saddam Hussein's ruling party.

Their demand was rejected, and parliament continued in their absence.

Osama An-Najeifi of the Al-Iraqiyah alliance was elected speaker of parliament with 227 votes out of 325.

Al-Iraqiyah leader, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, was expected to head a new council in charge of strategic policy.

A parliament vote on the government could still take several weeks, as the factions work out the details of who gets what posts.

compiled from agency reports