BAGHDAD — Iraq's parliament on Thursday ended a political crisis that left the country without a new government for eight months, but the tumultuous first session laid bare the deep divisions with the emerging governing coalition.
Lawmakers, ordered back to work by a federal court, elected a speaker and re-elected President Jalal Talabani, who called on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to head a new government in line with a deal reached by political leaders before the session.
The five-hour session was marked by a dramatic walkout by Iraqiya, the main Sunni-backed bloc, in protest over what it said was the reneging by coalition partners on an agreement just hours after it was signed.
In a series of negotiations in Baghdad and Erbil, the Kurds agreed to back al-Maliki's Shiite bloc, with Kurdish leader Talabani keeping his post as president in the coalition government. Ayad Allawi, whose secular, mostly Sunni Iraqiya coalition won two more seats than al-Maliki's bloc in the March elections, was relegated to the post of heading a powerful new strategic council.
Al-Maliki has 30 days to negotiate the Cabinet posts that will make up the government.
The session, after beginning almost three hours late due to last-minute negotiations, elected the Sunni speaker from the Iraqiya bloc and two deputies agreed upon earlier in the day.
A short time later, a dispute over lifting a ban on several Iraqiya candidates accused of Baathist ties led to a walkout by members of the Iraqiya political bloc, including the new speaker himself.
The speaker, Osama al-Nujaifi, later returned to oversee the vote for president.
The disagreement centered on an agreement reached during talks among Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, Allawi and al-Maliki. This was to announce that parliament would work toward lifting the ban on three Iraqiya members from taking their seats.
The ban was imposed by a controversial de-Baathification commission headed by Shiite politician Ahmed Chalabi. Disbanding the commission has been one of Iraqiya's key demands in joining the coalition.