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Fears of militant gains in Iraq as politics stall

Iraq's newly convened parliament has gone into recess without even choosing a speaker. This is raising fears that insurgents are gaining more ground amid the political confusion.

Iraq convened a new parliament on Tuesday as a step toward creating a government of national unity that could transcend sectarian and ethnic differences.

The move was aimed at stopping Sunni Islamist rebels who have been fighting government forces as they march toward the capital Baghdad.

The parliament was to choose a speaker before electing the prime minister.

But lawmakers opposed to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has vowed to stay in power, walked out, forcing the body to go into recess after just 90 minutes.

Iraq's minority Sunnis and Kurds have been demanding that Maliki step down, claiming his favoritism toward Shias fueled the current sectarian violence.

The Islamist insurgents' leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, issued an online statement on Tuesday calling Muslims to join a jihad, or holy war, during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

Jul. 2, 2014 - Updated 12:00 UTC