(Bloomberg) -- Iraq’s parliament elected Mohammed Al-Halbousi as speaker amid violent protests in the country’s oil-producing south.

Al-Halbousi, a Sunni, received 169 votes compared with 89 votes for Khalid Al-Obaidi, state-run Iraqiya channel reported. The 36-year-old previously served as the governor of Anbar province, in the country’s west.

Protests rocked the southern province of Basra earlier this month, leaving at least 15 people dead and government offices, including the Iranian consulate, burned, the Washington Post reported at the time. The upheaval dealt a significant blow for pro-U.S. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who’s seeking a second term.

After Al-Halbousi’s election, parliamentarians will elect the president, the formal head of the state. Once the president is picked, he will ask the candidate of the biggest bloc in the parliament to form a government. The whole process could take weeks to conclude.

To contact the reporters on this story: Khalid Al-Ansary in Baghdad at kalansary@bloomberg.net;Mahmoud Habboush in Abu Dhabi at mhabboush@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nayla Razzouk at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net, Stefania Bianchi, Charles Daly

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