Iraq’s embattled prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has agreed to step aside.
It comes after enormous pressure at home and abroad to relinquish control.
In a televised speech he dropped his bid for a third term in favour of his successor, Haider al-Abadi, saying it was ‘to protect the interests of our country’.
Abadi is seen as a less divisive figure who has a chance of uniting Iraqis against the insurgents of Islamic State who have taken control of large swathes of the north of the country.
The move ends a political crisis which had raised fears of a coup after Maliki refused to accept Abadi’s nomination to form a government last week, deploying extra security forces around Baghdad.
According to the constitution Abadi has 30 days to form a government during which time Maliki remains the caretaker leader.