News Flash: Allawi Walks Out of Parliament

Just as Iraq's politicians had finally hammered out a deal to create the next government, Ayad Allawi [Iyad Allawi] joined an estimated 57 Iraqiya MPs in walking out of the chamber.

The parliament, meeting in only its second session since the election in March, had just elected as Speaker Osama al-Nejeifi [al-Nujaifi], a Sunni hard-liner from Northern Iraq, and a member of Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc. He was the only candidate, and received 227 votes out of 295.

Two Deputy Speakers have also been elected: Aref Tayfour, a Kurd; and Qusai al-Suhail, a Shia'ite from the Sadrist Movement of Muqtada al-Sadr.

The plan was for Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani to then be elected President, and for Allawi to head up a new 'National Council for Strategic Policy' - your guess is as good as ours.

But in an apparent show of strength from Allawi, he and most of his bloc walked out of parliament. The Wall Street Journal says he was reluctant to approve the deal because it was unclear how significant the roles that had been reserved for him and his allies were.

The vote on the Presidency went ahead in Allawi's absence as the parliament still had a quorum, and Talabani has just been sworn in.

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