Iraq’s PM Nouri al-Maliki steps down
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stepped down from his post in favor of his successor PM-designate Haider al-Abadi, the long-standing premier announced in a televised address late on Thursday.
In his televised address, flanked by figures of his State of Law coalition including Abadi, Maliki said he would step down and endorse his successor in order to “preserve unity” in Iraq.
“I announce before you today, to ease the movement of the political process and the formation of the new government, the withdrawal of my candidacy in favour of brother Dr. Haider al-Abadi,” said Maliki.
During his speech, the premier defended his time in power, saying that he had opened up Iraq to the international community, and stressed that Iraq is facing a serious terrorist threat. He also indiciated that he was not seeking any future post in government.
Maliki said his decision was based on his desire to “safeguard the high interests of the country,” adding that he will not be the cause of any bloodshed.
“I will stay a combat soldier to defend Iraq and its people,” he added.
End of power
President Fuad Masum on Monday tasked Abadi, a member of Maliki’s Dawa party, with forming a new government, a move the two-term premier said was a violation of the constitution.
Tehran and Washington, the two main foreign power brokers in Iraq, came out in support of Abadi, and Maliki was dealt another major blow when the office of Iraq’s top Shiite cleric released a letter in which he called for Maliki to go.
Maliki went from relatively unknown exile to become a powerful premier who has been widely criticised for authoritarian tendencies.
His tenure will end with Iraq facing a major crisis to which his policies have contributed.
Jihadist-led militants are in control of major areas of five Iraqi provinces, after launching an offensive in June that swept aside security forces, of which he is the commander-in-chief.
A televised address from Maliki is expected shortly.