Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani is in hospital after suffering a stroke.
The 79-year-old is in a “critical but stable condition” according to government sources and state television.
Talabani is a veteran of the Kurdish guerrilla movement and became the country’s first ever Kurdish president in 2005.
Talabani has helped to negotiate relations between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims and Kurds.
Under a power-sharing agreement, the next president would also have to be a Kurd if Talabani is unable to continue.
It is a largely ceremonial role, but the president does have some constitutional powers.
Over the years, Talabani has suffered a number of health problems and had heart surgery in the US in 2008.