BAGHDAD -- In the bloody aftermath of street protests that turned violent on Friday in Falluja, Iraq's Parliament passed a law on Saturday intended to prevent Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki from seeking a third term.
The parliamentary move was the latest threat to Mr. Maliki's hold on power and reflected rising anger among rivals over his leadership, but it appeared unlikely that the law, which would need to approved by Iraq's president, would ever go into effect.
Mr. Maliki's coalition in Parliament boycotted the vote, and an official close to the prime minister called it unconstitutional and vowed to appeal to the federal courts, which on paper are independent but in practice bend to Mr. Maliki's will.
Sami al-Askari, a lawmaker from Mr. Maliki's coalition, said the law would "not see the light of day" because, he said, it is unconstitutional. "We are not worried about the vote on this law," Mr. Askari said.
The vote came after weeks of protests in the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar resulted in violence on Friday, when the Shiite-led government's security forces opened fire, leaving at least seven protesters in Falluja dead.
Dueling scenes that played out on Saturday -- the hundreds of mourners who hoisted the coffins of dead protesters in the streets of Falluja and the lawmakers in Baghdad who cast votes in an attempt to limit the power of the prime minister -- encapsulated the prevailing features of Iraqi public life after the long and costly American war: sectarianism, violence and political dysfunction.
Both events nudged Iraq further along the path of political instability before provincial elections in April, which will be the first test of Iraq's fragile democracy at the voting booth since the departure of American forces at the end of 2011.
On Saturday, a curfew that had gone into effect on Friday in Falluja was lifted and, as the army withdrew from the city, one soldier was killed by sniper fire and another was wounded, according to a security official in Anbar. As mourners in Falluja shouted, "The blood of our people will not be lost in vain," protesters set fire to an army checkpoint.
During the clashes on Friday, two soldiers were killed, and later three off-duty soldiers were kidnapped by gunmen and remained missing on Saturday, according to The Associated Press.
Mr. Maliki earned his second term as prime minister after a divisive political struggle and inconclusive elections in 2010, and it is not clear if he intends to seek a third term in 2014, when the next parliamentary elections are scheduled.
Last year, rivals unsuccessfully sought to oust Mr. Maliki from power through a vote of no confidence in Parliament.
Yasir Ghazi reported from Baghdad, and Tim Arango from Istanbul.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.