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Iraq speaker suspends parliament 'until further notice'

The political crisis in Iraq worsens a day after thousands of people protested against corruption in the capital
Iraqi MPs stage a protest at the parliament in Baghdad calling for the change of the parliament speaker on 18 April (AFP)

Iraqi parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri has suspended parliament "until further notice" after a week of political rows, brawls and attempts by rebel MPs to unseat him. 

The announcement came during a Tuesday parliament session, days after rebel MPs voted to remove him and elected Adnan al-Janabi as an interim replacement, meaning there are now two claimants to the speakership.

Jabouri insists the vote to sack him and his deputies was invalid because the session lacked the necessary quorum, but his opponents are seeking to move ahead with selecting replacements.

"I announce the suspension of sessions... of the Iraqi parliament until further notice," Jabouri said in a statement.

But Janabi has called for a session to be held on Thursday, so MPs may still meet without Jabouri's leadership.

Jabouri's decision was taken to "preserve the reputation of parliament" and prevent it from being "a place for conflict," he said.

There has been plenty of conflict in parliament over the past week: MPs held an overnight sit-in and threw punches in the chamber, as well as seeking to sack Jabouri.

The turmoil began with disagreement over two proposed cabinet line-ups presented by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, but shifted to calls for Jabouri to go.

Thousands of Iraqis have staged protests outside the Green Zone in Baghdad, the seat of government, in demonstrations against political corruption.

Abadi has sought to replace the cabinet of party-affiliated ministers with a government of technocrats, but has faced significant opposition from powerful political parties that rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds.

Both the US and the UN have warned that the political crisis could distract from efforts to combat the Islamic State group, which overran large areas of Iraq in 2014.