BAGHDAD - Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq whose influence in mediating disputes among the country's many political factions has far outweighed the limited powers of the office he occupies, suffered a stroke and was in critical condition Tuesday in a Baghdad hospital.

Talabani's illness added a new element of uncertainty to the country's divided politics, a year after the departure of the U.S. military left Iraq's leaders to steer the country's shaky democracy on their own.

Officials and doctors said Talabani, 79, was in stable condition, but privately other officials suggested his condition was more serious.

A hospital official, as well as a high-level government official -- both of whom requested anonymity out of respect for Talabani's family -- said the president was in a coma.

On Twitter, Talabani's son, Qubad Talabani, who represents the Kurdistan Regional Government in Washington, wrote that his father "is currently stable" and "we hope can begin his recovery soon."