Tags: Iraq | politics | Maliki

Maliki Out: US Applauds as Deputy Speaker Is Named New Iraqi PM

Image: Maliki Out: US Applauds as Deputy Speaker Is Named New Iraqi PM
Haider al-Abadi. (Ali Abbas/EPA/Landov)

By    |   Monday, 11 Aug 2014 09:43 AM

BAGHDAD — Iraq's new president on Monday snubbed the powerful incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and nominated the deputy parliament speaker to form the new government, raising fears of more infighting in the government as the country faces the threat of Sunni militants in the north.

In a televised address Fouad Massum gave Haider al-Abadi 30 days to form a new government and present it to parliament for approval, expressing his hope he would succeed.

Abadi, who pledged to form a government to "protect the Iraqi people," was nominated for the post by the Iraqi National Alliance, a coalition of Shiite parties that Maliki's State of Law is part of, but has turned against him.

Maliki's Shiite-dominated bloc won the most parliament seats in April elections and the prime minister sees himself as rightfully keeping the post. In a midnight speech, Maliki said he was filing a suit against the president for neglecting to name him prime minister by Sunday's deadline and all but demanded he be renominated.

Critics say Maliki, a Shiite, contributed to the crisis by monopolizing power and pursuing a sectarian agenda that alienated the country's Sunni and Kurdish minorities.

Abadi's nomination came hours after Maliki deployed his elite security forces in the streets of Baghdad, partially closed two main streets — popular spots for pro and anti-government rallies — as hundreds of his supporters took to the streets.

"We are with you, Maliki," they shouted, waving posters of the incumbent premier, singing and dancing.

Mohammed al-Ogeili, a lawmaker from Maliki's list, rejected the nomination of Abadi arguing that this move "runs against the constitution" because Maliki's party is the largest bloc and the National Alliance has no right to present any candidate.

"This decision would lead the country to a big problem and the president bears full responsibility for this situation," he told The Associated Press.

A senior U.S. diplomat with responsibility for Iraq on Monday congratulated Abadi on being tasked with forming a new government as prime minister.

"The United States stands ready to fully support a new and inclusive Iraqi government," added Brett McGurk, who is U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

Maliki has threatened to take Massum to court for failing to nominate him to continue as prime minister. McGurk made it clear that Washington supports a change.

"We welcome the decision by Iraq's President to charge the PM nominee of the largest parliamentary bloc to form a new cabinet," McGurk said, in a tweet.

"We congratulate Dr. Haidar al-Abadi on the nomination and urge him to form a new cabinet and national program as swiftly as possible."

"The nomination is illegal and a breach of the constitution. We will go to the federal court to object to the nomination," Hussein al-Maliki, Maliki's son-in-law, told Reuters.

Maliki has indicated he would seek a third term as prime minister, rejecting calls by Sunnis, Kurds, fellow Shi'ites and regional power broker Iran to step aside for a less polarizing figure who can unite Iraqis against a raging Sunni insurgency.

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Iraq's new president on Monday snubbed the powerful incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and nominated the deputy parliament speaker to form the new government, raising fears of more infighting in the government as country faces the threat of Sunni militants in the north.
Iraq, politics, Maliki
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2014-43-11
Monday, 11 Aug 2014 09:43 AM
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