UPDATED: Iraqi parliament elects Barham Salih as president

Barham Salih

Baghdad ( – The Iraqi parliament on Tuesday elected veteran Kurdish politician Barham Salih as new president of the country, a long-awaited move that precedes the formation of a new government.

The 58-year-old politician secured the mostly ceremonial position after winning two—thirds of the parliamentary votes.

Salih’s sole challenger Fuad Hussein withdrew from the presidential race ahead of the second round but the parliament rejected his request.

Salih would succeed Fuad Masum in this top post.

He was chosen by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to run for the presidency. Salih left the party last year to campaign against corruption. He defeated Latif Rashid and Moahmmed Sabir, winning the internal party election by 26 votes.

Salih assumed the posts of prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan and deputy prime minister of the Iraqi federal government.

He also founded the American University of Iraq in 2007.

Iraqi politicians have been in a deadlock over the formation of a new government since an election in May.

Under an informal power-sharing agreement in place since the 2003 ouster of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the position of Iraqi president goes to a Kurd.

The parliament speaker should be a Sunni Muslim, and the prime minister should be a Shi’a.

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