Iraq´s Maliki concedes defeat, backs PM designate

2014-08-14 22:32:27 | Al Muslim News
Iraq´s Maliki concedes defeat, backs PM designate

 

Iraq´s divisive premier Nuri al-Maliki dropped his bid to stay in power Thursday, bowing to huge domestic and international pressure two months into a jihadist-led offensive threatening to tear the country apart. The two-term premier threw in the towel after an acrimonious political battle and backed his designated successor Haidar al-Abadi, a fellow member of the Dawa. "I announce before you today... the withdrawal of my candidacy in favour of the brother Doctor Haidar al-Abadi," he said in a televised address, with Abadi standing next to him. Maliki, 64, turned the page on eight years that saw him rise from the relative anonymity of a former exile who returned in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion to become a feared and powerful ruler. Quelling fears a desperate bid to cling to power could worsen what is already Iraq´s worst crisis in years, Maliki said he was stepping aside to "facilitate the progress of the political process and the formation of the new government. "He defended his record at the helm but critics say his sectarian policies have alienated and radicalised the Sunni minority, most of whose heartland extremist Islamic State fighters swept across two months ago, facing little or no popular resistance. The jihadist group has since declared a "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq, hunted down religious minorities, destroyed holy sites, seized the country´s largest dam and several oil fields..

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