Morocco cites 'disrespect of rules' for Iran absence

By Khalid Majdoub

RABAT (AA) – Morocco's parliament speaker has cited Iran's "disrespect" of rules for its absence of a recent meeting of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Member States.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Habib al-Malki said Tehran did not respect the rules of participation in last week's meeting.

"It is difficult to accept a delegation of 30 or 40 people," al-Malki said, in reference to the size of the Iranian delegation.

Last week, Moroccan government spokesman Mustapha al-Khouji refused to comment on a question regarding the reason behind Iran's absence from the meeting.

Local media reported that the Moroccan authorities had denied entry to the Iranian delegation to take part in the conference.

Made up of 54 countries, the Tehran-based Parliamentary Union of Organization of Islamic Cooperation Member States was established in 1999.

UPDATE 2 – Voting begins to elect Turkish parliament’s new speaker


By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish lawmakers on Sunday began casting their votes to elect new speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.

In accordance with the Turkish Constitution, the election of the speaker is being conducted via secret ballot.

The first and second round of voting in the election for parliament speaker yielded no clear result, as all four candidates failed to secure the required two-thirds majority to win.

A third round is now underway.

Mustafa Sentop, deputy speaker and ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's nominee, is the strongest candidate for the post.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has announced that it will support the AK Party’s candidate.

The head of the parliament planning and budget committee Sureyya Sadi Bilgic will replace Sentop as deputy speaker.

Meanwhile, AK Party's deputy chair Lutfu Elvan will be the new head of the planning and budget committee.

The voting process began at 12.11 p.m. local time (0911GMT) at the Turkish Parliament.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) nominated their deputy group chair Engin Altay, a lawmaker from the Istanbul province.

The opposition Good (IYI) Party nominated Imam Huseyin Filiz for the post of parliament speaker.

Filiz, born in 1950, is also a lawmaker from southeastern Gaziantep province.

The opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) nominated Serpil Kemalbay Pekgozegu for the post.

Pekgozegu, born in 1964, is a lawmaker from the western Izmir province.

***In the second round, Sentop got 333 votes, while Altay got 126, Pekgozegu 46, and Filiz 35

***A total of 544 lawmakers cast votes, while four votes were declared invalid.

***AK Party's Istanbul mayoral candidate Binali Yildirim attended the voting in the second round.

***Yildirim had stepped down earlier this week ahead of Sunday’s speaker election.

In the first two rounds of voting, at least 401 out of 600 deputies' votes are needed to win.

In a third round of voting, a minimum of 301 votes is needed. If a fourth round is necessary, the candidate with the largest number of votes is elected.

The AK Party holds 291 seats in parliament, while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) has 142 seats, HDP 65 seats, the MHP 49, IYI Party 39, Felicity (Saadet) Party 2, Turkish Workers Party 2, Democrat Party (DP) 1, and Grand Unity Party (BBP) 1, and independent 3.

Turkish parliament to elect new speaker

             ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's parliament is expected to elect a new speaker on Feb. 24, following the previous speaker's announcement that he is stepping down.</p>  <p>Deputy Speaker Celal Adan took over after Binali Yildirim, who is running for mayor of Istanbul, said he was stepping down ahead of the March 31 local elections.</p>  <p>Yildirim’s resignation is expected to be official around Feb. 19, and elections will follow on Feb. 24.</p>  <p>In line with the Turkish Constitution, the election of a new speaker is being conducted via secret ballot.</p>  <p>The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has announced that it will support the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.</p>  <p>In the first two rounds of voting, at least 401 out of 600 deputies' votes are needed to win the speaker post.</p>  <p>In a third round of voting, if necessary, only 301 votes are needed, and in a possible fourth round, a simple majority suffices to win.</p>  <p>The ruling AK Party holds 291 seats in parliament, while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) has 142, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) 65, MHP 49, IYI Party 39, Felicity (Saadet) Party 2, Worker's Party of Turkey 2, Democrat Party (DP) 1, Grand Unity Party (BBP) 1, and independents 3.</p>  <p> </p>  <p> 

Algerian parliament elects new speaker

By Abdel Razek Abdallah

ALGIERS (AA) – The Algerian parliament on Wednesday elected Mouad Bouchareb as a new speaker for the assembly in a session boycotted by opposition parties.

Bouchareb was nominated for the post on Tuesday by Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (NLF).

He was the sole nominee for the post and he secured the support of Algeria’s National Rally for Democracy, the Tajamou Amel el-Djazair, the Algerian Popular Movement and a parliamentary bloc of independent MPs.

Along with the NLF, the four political blocs hold a combined 232 out of 462 seats in parliament, ensuring an easy majority for the ruling party’s candidate.

In his speech after being elected, Bouchareb, 47, who hails from Algeria’s Setif province, thanked Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and NLF head for placing trust in him for the post.

Meanwhile, opposition political parties boycotted the session, citing what they describe as the “illegal” ouster of former speaker of parliament Said Bouhadja last month after a dispute with lawmakers.

According to the Algerian Constitution, the speaker of parliament can be only replaced in case of death, resignation or medical disability.

Bouhadja refused to resign and told local media that he is “still the legitimate chairman of the assembly”.

He had stirred significant controversy due to his decision to sack Bachir Slimani, secretary-general of the assembly.

Algerian speaker of parliament announces resignation

ALGIERS (AA) – Algerian Speaker of Parliament Said Bouhadja officially resigned from his post on Friday due to disputes with other lawmakers.

According to one parliamentary source, Bouhadja has already submitted his resignation.

“His resignation was a foregone conclusion after he lost the trust of the ruling National Liberation Front (NLF) and a number of lawmakers,” the source, speaking anonymously due to the issue’s sensitivity, said.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who leads the NLF, has yet to approve Bouhadja’s resignation, however.

Bouhadja’s abrupt resignation comes shortly after his decision to sack Bachir Slimani, parliament’s secretary-general — a move that had stirred considerable controversy.

In 2017, Bouhadja was elected parliamentary speaker, replacing Mohamed Larbi Ould Khelifa.

Iraq parliament to elect president on Oct. 2: Speaker

By Ali Jawad

BAGHDAD (AA) – The Iraqi parliament will choose the country’s next president on Oct. 2, Assembly Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi said Tuesday.

The two main political parties in northern Iraq's Kurdish region are both competing to obtain the post, with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) nominating Barham Saleh and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) nominating Fuad Hussein.

“The deadline for electing the next president of the republic has been set for Oct. 2," al-Halbousi told members of the assembly.

On Monday, Abbas Beyatli, deputy leader of Iraq’s Turkmen Nationalist Movement, also announced his intention to vie for the post.

And on Sunday, Sirve Abdulvahid, an independent politician of Kurdish origin, likewise announced her candidacy, becoming Iraq’s first female politician to do so.

Once elected by lawmakers, the new president will task the majority bloc in parliament with drawing up a new government.

Iraq Sunnis fail to agree on parliament speaker nominee

By Ali Jawad

BAGHDAD (AA) – Sunni political blocs have failed to agree on a nominee for the post of speaker of Iraq’s newly-elected parliament, a lawmaker said Wednesday.

“We’re still considering nine different people for the nomination,” MP Mohamed al-Khaledi, head of parliament’s Sunni Bayariq al-Khair bloc, told Anadolu Agency.

Al-Khaledi himself is a nominee for the post, along with eight other Sunni politicians, including former Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi and current Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi.

On Saturday, parliament will convene to elect a new speaker and two deputies.

Last week, parliament postponed the election of a new speaker to mid-September after a number of lawmakers decided to boycott the vote.

Within 30 days of its first session, which was held last week, parliament should elect — by a two-thirds majority — the country’s next president, according to Iraq’s constitution.

The new president will then task the majority bloc in parliament with drawing up a government, which must be referred back to the assembly for approval.

Berri re-elected speaker of Lebanon parliament

By Wassim Saif al-Din

BEIRUT (AA) – Lebanon’s newly-elected parliament on Wednesday re-elected Shia politician Nabih Berri as speaker of the new assembly.

Berri won the votes of 98 MPs of the 128-member parliament.

Berri, the leader of the Shia Amal Movement, ran unopposed for the post, reserved for Shias under the Taif agreement that ended Lebanon’s civil war.

This was the sixth time for Berri to be elected as speaker of the Lebanese parliament since 1992.

Wednesday’s parliament session was the first since Lebanese voters cast ballot in the May 6 general election, Lebanon’s first since 2009.

Indonesian politician gets jail time in graft case

By Ainur Rohmah

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) – An Indonesian court on Tuesday sentenced former Speaker of Parliament Setya Novanto to 15 years in prison for his involvement in a multi-million-dollar graft case.

Judge Franky Tambuwun said Novanto had abused his authority and position in the budgeting and procurement process of an identity card scheme.

Tambuwun said Novanto received $7.3 million and a $135,000 Richard Mille watch as bribe.

Novanto was also fined for $37,000 and banned from holding any public office for five years. He is also required to return the $7.3 million that he plundered.

During the trial, Novanto pleaded not guilty and said he is considering to file an appeal.

The former speaker, who was once described as "powerful" and "great" by U.S. President Donald Trump, is among several senior politicians accused of receiving money from the scheme.

The scandal came to light in 2017 and is estimated to have cost taxpayers around $170 million.

The identity card program was launched in 2011 with the aim of providing greater data security and efficiency to Indonesia's more than 250 million inhabitants.

According to investigators, around half of the project's 5.8 trillion Indonesian rupiah ($434 million) budget was divided between 37 people, including Novanto and 23 other members of the House of Representatives.

Novanto was temporarily forced to step down as house speaker over corruption allegations in 2015 after he was caught seeking shares worth billions of dollars from a U.S. mining company.

He was cleared of charges and returned as speaker, a role he quit again on December 2017.