Iraqi PM Maliki Steps Down

Nouri al-Maliki has in a television address announced his decision to step down as Iraq’s prime minister and endorsed Haider al-Abadi as his successor.

He said his decision was aimed at preserving the country’s “unity”.

“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,” Maliki said in his Thursday address.

Maliki’s announcement came days after he refused to stand down and threatened to challenge the Iraq president’s decision to appoint Abadi as his successor.

“Maliki will withdraw the complaint against the president and will back the prime minister designate,” Ali Mussawi, Maliki’s spokesman, told the AFP news agency, referring to a lawsuit the outgoing premier had vowed to file.

President Fouad Massoum 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 he was dealt another major blow when the office of Iraq’s top Shia religious leader released a letter in which he called for Maliki to go. [AlJazeera]

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