Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has had a stroke and his medical team in Baghdad is still trying to stabilize his condition, a government spokesman said today. Talabani's office earlier said the Iraqi president had been rushed to the hospital after showing signs of fatigue last night; an Iraqi Cabinet official said Talabani fainted yesterday and remains unconscious. Doctors have not decided whether Talabani will continue to be treated in Baghdad or will be flown to another country for treatment.
The Iraqi presidency is seen as a largely ceremonial post, though it does retain some powers under Iraq's constitution. The president must sign off on laws approved by parliament and has the power to block executions. Talabani, a rare unifying figure who is seen as rising above the country's ethnic and sectarian fault lines, has been actively involved in trying to mediate an ongoing crisis between Iraq's central government and the country's Kurdish minority, of which he is a member.