Iraq parliament ordered to get back to work
Iraq's Supreme Court has ordered the country's parliament back to work, more than seven months after inconclusive elections left Iraq in political limbo.
The court said lawmakers' self-declared absence was unconstitutional.
Iraq has faced political deadlock since the 7 March elections, when a bloc led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi emerged with a slender advantage.
Neither he nor current PM Nouri Maliki has since formed a coalition, and parliament has met for just 20 minutes.
At that meeting, in June, lawmakers were sworn in and then decided to delay the formal return of parliament in order to give political leaders time to negotiate alliances.
However, progress has since been slow and Iraq now holds the world record for the longest time without a government.
In a judgement, the Supreme Court said it had decided to cancel the decision to delay parliament's return, and to require a parliamentary speaker to call on lawmakers to convene parliament and resume work.
A leading Iraqi constitutional lawyer told the BBC that the court's decision was a formality that would do nothing to break the political deadlock holding up the formation of a new government, the BBC's Jim Muir reports from Baghdad.
However, parliament will not elect a speaker and other officers until the final composition of a government is decided upon.
Those positions will depend on the broader political carve-up of top jobs, especially the prime minister and president of the republic, our correspondent says.
However, the court's decision does reflect rising public and even political anger at the failure to produce a new government, Jim Muir adds.
- Al-Iraqiyya (Iraqi National Movement): Nationalist bloc led by former PM Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia. Includes Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, and senior Sunni politician Saleh al-Mutlaq
- State of Law: Led by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and his Shia Islamist Daawa Party, the alliance purportedly cuts across religious and tribal lines. Includes some Sunni tribal leaders, Shia Kurds, Christians and independents
- Iraqi National Alliance (INA): Shia-led bloc includes followers of the radical cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), and the Fadhilah Party, along with ex-PM Ibrahim Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi
- Kurdistan Alliance: Coalition dominated by the two parties administering Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region - the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by President Jalal Talabani