Iraq's highest court has ordered the country's parliament back to work, in a ruling that could help break a seven-month deadlock in negotiations to form a new government.
The chief judge of the Federal Supreme Court, Midhat Mahmoud, said the court had ruled unconstitutional the parliament's failure to meet since June or to fulfil its duty to elect a speaker and a president.
The 325-member parliament elected in March has met only once, on June 14, for 18 minutes.
Advertisement: Story continues below The court's ruling has the potential to deepen the political crisis if the Iraqiya bloc, which won the most seats in the election, refuses to attend sessions.
''All members of parliament should abide by this decision,'' said Abdul Sattar al-Beeraqdar, a spokesman for the country's judiciary. ''It will be a constitutional breach if they don't.''
The ruling is in response to a case filed by a consortium of groups, backed by the Communist Party, against the acting speaker, Fouad Massoum.
Mr Massoum, a Kurd, said he would not disobey the order and expected to summon MPs to meet again within two weeks.