Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to step aside on Thursday and threw his support behind his party’s replacement in the post. Maliki’s decision ended a political deadlock that has contributed to the country’s inability to fight the Islamic State terror army.
Al-Maliki, who has served as Iraq’s prime minister for the past eight years, had been struggling for weeks to stay for a third four-year term amid an attempt by opponents to push him out, accusing him of monopolizing power and pursuing a fiercely pro-Shiite agenda that has alienated the Sunni minority.
The pressure intensified this week when his Shiite political alliance backed another member of his party, Haider al-Abadi, to replace him, and President Fouad Massoum nominated al-Abadi to form the next government. Al-Maliki for days had refused to step aside, saying the nomination violates the constitution.
But in a meeting of his Dawa party on Thursday evening, al-Maliki agreed to endorse al-Abadi as the next prime minister, two senior lawmakers from his State of Law parliamentary bloc — Hussein al-Maliki and Khalaf Abdul-Samad.
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Maliki was heavily pressured by both the United States and Iran to step aside in an attempt to bring political stability to Baghdad.