Iraqi PM resigns in attempt to end political crisis

Iraqi PM resigns in attempt to end political crisis

PanARMENIAN.Net - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has resigned, in a move observers hope will end a political crisis in Baghdad. Haider al-Abadi, a deputy speaker of parliament, has been asked by Iraq's president to form a government, BBC News reports.

Maliki's earlier refusal to resign after eight years in power had been blamed for deepening the crisis. The UN and U.S. have welcomed his resignation.

The government has been unable to stop Islamist fighters from seizing vast areas in northern Iraq. The offensive by the self-styled Islamic State (IS), a Sunni Muslim jihadist group formerly known as Isis, has triggered a security and humanitarian crisis, driving an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis from their homes.

Maliki spoke of the grave "terrorist" threat from IS before announcing his own exit. "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 Doctor Haider al-Abadi," he said.

He had earlier insisted that he should have the right to form the government, as leader of the biggest bloc in parliament.

The resignation brought an end to eight years of often divisive rule, when Maliki's government was accused of favouring the Shia majority. Critics say Maliki's sectarian policies had precipitated the current crisis.

Abadi is one of Iraq's most senior politicians, having held several high-profile posts since returning from exile in 2003. He is regarded by some as a moderate within Maliki's Dawa party, and has shown more of a willingness to compromise than his predecessor.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice praised Maliki's decision to step down, describing it as a "major step" towards uniting Iraq.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Maliki's withdrawal "will allow the crucial process to form a new government to proceed swiftly". "An inclusive, broad-based government ready to immediately tackle... pressing issues" was needed, he added.

Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama offered his support to the prime minister-designate.

 Top stories
"We are concerned about the state of the European project," the foreign ministers of the Six said in a statement after talks.
The Siege Watch report says 1.09 million people are living in 46 besieged communities in Syria, far more than the 18 listed by the UN.
Rebel-held areas in and around Aleppo are still home to 350,000 people, and aid workers have said they could soon fall to the government.
The launch would be in defiance of repeated warnings by governments who suspect it is a banned test of ballistic missile technology.
Partner news