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Maliki steps down as Iraqi PM, backs Abadi

Posted on Aug 15 2014 | IANS

Baghdad, Aug 15 : Iraq's embattled Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki withdrew his nomination for a third term in office Thursday and endorsed premier-designate Haider al-Abadi as his successor ending months-long political chaos in the conflict-torn country.

Abadi, a lawmaker from Maliki's own Shiite Dawa Party, has 30 days to form a new government under the constitution.

"I announce the withdrawal of my nomination (for the post) to Abadi, to preserve for the high interests of the country, and will stay a soldier fighting for the sake of Iraq and its people," Xinhua quoted Maliki as saying.

The two-time prime minister stood along with Abadi and many other members from his Dawa Party to make the announcement in a televised speech late Thursday.

"I will not be the reason for spilling a drop of blood, despite unfairness," Maliki said, referring to Iraqi President Fuad Masoum's move to nominate Abadi to form a new government.

Maliki's decision came after he met Abadi, along with Iraq's Vice President Khudhair al-Khuzaie and the former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who is also a leading figure in the powerful Iraqi National Alliance, a major Shiite bloc.

Maliki's announcement came days after he refused to stand down and threatened to challenge Masoum's decision to appoint Abadi as his successor.

Maliki has been under growing pressure to give up his bid for a third term, as the National Alliance, a Shia bloc, which includes Maliki's State of the Law party, declared that the next prime minister must be accepted by other political partners of the Kurds and Sunnis.

Earlier, the United States and the regional power Iran insisted that it is the time for Maliki to step aside, and vowed their support for Abadi.

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