Iraqi leaders elected a new President Thursday: Kurdish politician Fouad Massoum.
Congratulations to Kurdish candidate and veteran politician Fuad Massoum who has just been voted in as Iraq's president. Progress at last.— Bayan Sami Rahman (@BayanRahman) July 24, 2014
"Everyone likes him,” Abbas al-Bayati, a Shiite lawmaker, told The New York Times. “He is a moderate man and was agreed to by everyone,” adding that the 76-year-old is “a man who refuses divisions, and this is what we look for in the Iraqi president.”
The British Ambassador to Iraq Simon Collis and Kurdistan's High Representative to the United Kingdom Bayan Sami Rahman both praised the decision on Twitter Thursday.
Massoum was born in the Kurdish capital of Irbil in 1938 and, along with current Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, founded the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in 1975. Known as a staunch opponent of Sadam Hussein, Massoum helped draft the new Iraqi Constitution after the American-led invasion toppled the dictator in 2003.
Since the U.S. withdrawal in 2011, the country has been racked with regional strife: Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has eliminated Sunnis from his government; Kurdistan moves closer to forming an independent state in the north; and the Islamic State, which overtook Mosul last month, continues on towards Baghdad. Just hours before the election, an attack on a prisoner convoy north of Baghdad left 60 people dead.