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Iraqi Kurds elect first woman speaker as stop-gap

ARBIL: The parliament in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region on Monday elected its first ever woman speaker as a temporary stop-gap while deep political rifts persist more than four months after legislative elections.

During the body’s first session since the September polls deputies chose Vala Farid from former regional leader Massud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

The head of the KDP bloc Haimim Hawrami said Farid was appointed “temporarily” until a deal can be reached with the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party on a permanent appointment.

Lawmakers from the PUK, the party of former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, boycotted Monday’s session.

The PUK has asked for more time to hash out thorny issues with its rival including the leadership of the disputed oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

Read More: German state parliament elects first Muslim woman speaker

Iraqi Kurdistan has faced political instability since a September 2017 referendum for independence backfired after it was rejected by Baghdad and international powers.

Iraqi forces took back oil-rich regions from Kurdish control in the wake of the vote, dealing a hammer blow to the authorities in the semi-autonomous region.

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