Maliki clings to power in Iraq, saying he’ll await court ruling on who’s PM

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 9:30pm

An increasingly isolated Nouri al-Maliki again protested at his removal as Iraqi prime minister, as his own political party and his former sponsor in Iran publicly endorsed a successor who many in Baghdad hope can halt advancing Sunni jihadists.

Although abandoned by former backers in the United States and Iraq's Shiite political and religious establishment, Maliki pressed his legal claim to power this week. Premier-designate Haider al-Abadi , meanwhile, held consultations on forming a coalition government that can unite warring factions after eight years that drove Sunnis to revolt over what they say was Maliki's sectarian bias. Maliki has built up a network of commanders in the armed forces and Shiite militias who are loyal to him, but there was no sign that he was ready to resort to force against Abadi, a long-time associate in the Islamic Dawa Party.

Maliki said in a speech on state television that he was waiting for Iraq's Supreme Court to rule on his complaint that, as leader of the biggest bloc in the parliament elected in April, it was he, not Abadi, whom the president should invite to form a government. A court ruling against Maliki could be a way out of the stand-off. "The violation that occurred has no value," he said.

"This government is continuing and will not be changed except after the federal court issues its decision."

In a blow to Maliki, his Dawa Party called on Iraqi politicians to work with Abadi to form a new government.

The United States, during whose occupation Maliki first rose to power, made clear again that it has had enough of him. The White House said it would be glad to see an Abadi government.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his endorsement to Abadi. "I hope the designation of the new prime minister in Iraq will untie the knot and lead to the establishment of a new government and teach a good lesson to those who aim for sedition in Iraq," he said.