BAGHDAD (AP) â€” Iraq's highest court on Sunday ordered parliament back to work after a seven-month political impasse that has blocked the formation of a new government.
Iraq's federal Supreme Court called the delay unconstitutional.
Parliament's acting speaker, Fouad Massoum, told The Associated Press that he expects to have a meeting date set by the end of this week.
The four-page court order termed as "illegal" a June decision by lawmakers to delay parliament's return and give leaders time to broker political alliances.
"The federal Supreme Court decided to cancel this decision, binding the parliament speaker to call on lawmakers to convene parliament and resume work," read the order that was issued Sunday.
The delay, it said, "violated the constitution."
Parliament's 325 lawmakers have met only once, briefly in June, since March 7 elections that failed to give any party a ruling majority. Since then, dueling political leaders have resisted returning as they try to corral alliances for enough support to name new government leaders, including the prime minister, when parliament reconvenes.
Without parliament in session, the government is in a holding pattern. It cannot move ahead with any major decisions, including business-friendly reforms such as streamlining bureaucracy and clarifying rules for foreign investment.
After meeting for just under 20 minutes in June, lawmakers agreed to leave the parliament session open but unattended â€” a technicality aimed at allowing negotiations for choosing leaders continue beyond constitutional deadlines. Under pressure from foreign allies and mounting exasperation from the Iraqi public, leaders since have twice tried â€” and failed â€” to bring parliament back.