Iraqi lawmakers' bid to agree on a new unity government runs into its first obstacles as parliament adjourns a first debate after just a few hours. As Sonia Legg reports, reaching a consensus could be a long haul.
The stakes can hardly be higher - Iraqi lawmakers must agree on a new unity government or risk seeing the country split apart. But it's clearly going to take time - a key session of parliament ended in an adjournment, despite a plea from the acting speaker. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ACTING SPEAKER OF IRAQ PARLIAMENT, MEHDI AL-HAFIDH, SAYING: "The most important issue is to restore security and stability in Iraq. " Iraq's lawmakers were only elected in April. But the eight-year rule of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is under threat. He had plenty of enemies before militants took over a parts of the northern Iraq. Now even some of his allies say the country needs a less polarising figure. Iraqi troops have been battling ISIL fighters for three weeks. New figures from the United Nations suggest more than 2,400 Iraqis were killed in June. It makes the government's task even more critical. But some Baghdad residents believe unity will be hard to achieve. (SOUNDBITE)(Arabic) BAGHDAD RESIDENT SAMI AL-SAIDI, SAYING: "A large number of the groups aren't attending the session so I don't think they'll be able to form the government. People are now afraid. They do not know what will happen - the future of the Iraqi people is unknown". ISIL rules swathes of territory from Aleppo in Syria to the western edge of Baghdad. It's renamed the area the Islamic State and declared its leader to be the caliph - the historic ruler of the whole Muslim world. Its insurgency is backed by other Sunni armed groups who resent what they see as persecution under Maliki, who's a Shia Muslim. CMC's Michael Hewson sees only one ultimate outcome. SOUNDBITE (English) Michael Hewson, Chief Market Analyst, CMC Markets, saying: "It doesn't have a centralised government as it is. Mr Maliki has been criticised quite widely for isolating the new Sunni minority I think it is unrealistic to expect any form of unity government going forward given what is going on at the moment and I think that the best that we can hope for really is some form of partitioned Iraq which is basically suitable for everybody." The U.S. hasn't publicly called for Maliki's departure but it is demanding a more inclusive government in return for extra military support. The week long adjournment came as no surprise to many - it took Maliki ten months to build the last coalition.