Middle East

Iraq president asks Abadi to form government

Iraqi MP and Dawa party member Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad November 22, 2009. (AFP Photo/Sabah Arar)

BAGHDAD: Iraq's president asked Haider al-Abadi Monday, the Shiite coalition's nominee for prime minister, to form a government, a spokesman for the main Shiite coalition said.

The move, which comes after months of political wrangling, is likely to be resisted by Nouri al-Maliki, who has rejected calls to drop his bid for a third term as prime minister.

Iraq's highest court earlier issued a ruling suggesting Maliki's State of Law Shiite bloc is the biggest in parliament and therefore was entitled to nominate a candidate for prime minister.

Maliki's aides were not immediately available for comment. He has defied calls by Sunnis, Kurds, some fellow Shiites and regional power broker Iran to step aside for a less polarizing figure.

Critics say Maliki alienated Sunnis, prompting them to support Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants who have seized a large chunk of northern Iraq and have threatened to march on Baghdad, posing the biggest threat to Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

State television showed footage of the president shaking hands with Abadi and telling him: "I hope you will be successful in forming a broader-based government."

Sectarian violence has become widespread in Iraq again, reaching levels seen when a civil war peaked in 2006-2007.

Educated at the University of Manchester, Abadi served as the head of parliament's finance committee, a political advisor to the prime minister and minister of communications.





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