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Iraq: Maliki steps aside in favour of Abadi to end political crisis

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Iraq: Maliki steps aside in favour of Abadi to end political crisis

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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.