Iraq's parliament on Thursday elected veteran Kurdish politician Fouad Massoum as federal president, a move that paves the way for the much-delayed formation of a new government.
He succeeds the ailing Jalal Talabani, who returned only five days ago from 18 months of medical treatment in Germany to serve out his tenure. Parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi announced that Massoum, who was born in 1938 and became the first prime minister of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan more than two decades ago, had garnered the most votes.
Masum was almost guaranteed the job after Kurdish parties struck a late night deal to support him.
Under an unofficial power-sharing deal, Iraq's Kurds traditionally get the post of president. Massoum won 211 votes while his challenger only managed 17 in the second round, according to figures announced by Juburi.