Iraq’s new parliament will convene next week to start the process of setting up a new government amid deepening political rifts and an ongoing Islamist-led insurgency.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani Thursday issued a decree inviting the new House of Representatives to meet on July 1 to form a new government, independent news site Alsumaria News reported, citing a presidential statement.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague meanwhile arrived in Baghdad on a surprise visit reportedly aimed at prodding the country’s politicians to agree on a unity government.
He was to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who eyes a third term despite stiff opposition from key rivals.
Mr. Hague’s trip comes three days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Baghdad where he renewed his country’s call for the creation of an inclusive government.
“We particularly agree on Iraq, that we want a government formation as rapidly as possible that represents unity for the country,” Mr. Kerry said Thursday in Paris following talks with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.
The French official too called for “a government of national unity that can cope with the situation,” saying the unity of Iraq was at stake.
Earlier this month, the jihadist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), believed to be backed by local Sunni militias, seized the northern city of Mosul and captured a string of towns stretching south towards the capital Baghdad.