(BAGHDAD) -- The political turmoil in Iraq erupted once again when lawmakers announced late Monday that they would hold a crucial session of parliament next Sunday, just hours after postponing the meeting until Aug. 12.
Parliament was originally supposed to be in session Tuesday to select a new government based on April's elections.
However, the threat by extremist fighters from the Islamic State has thrown the political process into a virtual tailspin with Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's resisting calls by minority Sunnis and Kurds as well as the West to form a unity government as a way of thwarting the advance of extremists.
Maliki says securing the nation should be Iraq's top priority as he also fights off attempts to remove him from office.
So far, the Iraqi military has only scored marginal success at stopping the Islamic State that is under the command of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared regions of Iraq and Syria as part of a new caliphate where strict Islamic law is observed.
Meanwhile, national forces suffered a major loss Monday when Major General Najm Abdullah al-Sudani, commander of the Iraqi army’s Sixth Division, was reportedly killed by mortar fire in Anbar province, one of the areas held by the Islamic State.
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