Maliki resigns as PM of Iraq
Amid international pressure, Maliki agreed to step down as PM of Iraq. (AFP/File)
In an effort to quell international outcry, incumbent Prime Minister Noor al-Maliki stepped down from the Prime Minister position late Thursday evening, according to the AP.
Vying for a third term, Maliki has spent the last few weeks rallying against new PM delegate Haider al-Abadi, who became an internationally favored replacement to him after being appointed by Iraqi President Fuad Masum last week and endorsed by several prominent leaders in the Middle East region and the rest of the world.
Especially the U.S. governement, in an announced desire to back new, unifying solutions for Iraq, expressed support for the Abadi, and urged Mr. Maliki away from engaging in any efforts to remain in power.
Still, suspence grew in Baghdad last week as Maliki refused to awknowledge Abadi's nomination and threatened to sue the government for what he considered to be his rightful place as Iraq's third-term PM.
Many feared Maliki would attempt a coup, or a take-over by force, after he blockaded Baghdad's streets with military and police personnel in the wake of the nomination. He also claimed he would refuse to step down until a court decision had been reached regarding the legality of President Masum's shift away from Maliki favor.
But the AP reports that two senior lawmakers from the State of Law parliamentary bloc said in a Dawa Party meeting Thursday, Maliki finally agreed to endorse fellow party-member and PM nomine Abadi — gaining praise from diverse sects across Iraq,
The news comes afte harsh criticism from both the U.S. and neighboring Iran has left Maliki largely without support from the international community. And as ISIS militants embattle the country's northern borders, many feared the political situation in Baghdad would reach volatile levels when Maliki's resistance intensified.
Still, with his new concession and public address, Maliki has sparked a renewed hope for Iraq's unity. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reacted to Maliki's annoucement with releif, telling the AP that the move "sets the stage for a historic and peaceful transition of power in Iraq."
The news comes amid continuous U.S. airstrikes against ISIS militants in the north and the mass displacement of Iraq's religious minorities — 1.5 million people have reportedly been displaced by recent violence across the country — and a situation which the UN has recently deamed a "Level 3 Emergency." According to the AP, many Iraqis blame the crisis on Maliki's failure as prime minister.
He made the annoucement of his step-down on national television late Thursday in the presence of senior members of the Islamic Dawa Party, standing alongside a group of officers which included newly-nominated Abadi.
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