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BAGHDAD -- Iraq's new parliament ended its inaugural session Tuesday after failing to make any progress in choosing a new prime minister even as the country faces a militant blitz that threatens to rip it apart and a spike in violence that made June the deadliest month in at least two years.
Acting speaker Mahdi al-Hafidh called off the proceedings after most of the 328-member legislature's Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers did not return after a short break. Their absence deprived parliament of a quorum. The entire session lasted less than two hours. The impasse prolongs what has already been days of intense jockeying as political blocs try to decide on the posts of prime minister, president and speaker of parliament. The country's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged lawmakers last week to agree on the three posts before Tuesday's meeting in hopes of averting months of wrangling that could further destabilize the country. But Tuesday's session dashed the prospects of a quick compromise. Embattled incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — whose bloc won the most seats in April elections — is under intense pressure to step aside.
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