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Obama backs new Iraqi PM as Maliki stands aside to 'safeguard' Iraq

Obama backs new Iraqi PM as Maliki stands aside to 'safeguard' Iraq
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Iraqi Prime Minster designate Haidar al-Abadi has taken to social media to issue a call for unity as Baghdad is threatened by Islamic State fighters.

It comes after Nouri al-Maliki bowed to pressure and agreed to stand down as prime minister to “safeguard the high interests country,” paving the way for a new coalition.

US President Barack Obama hailed the decision as a unifying move in a land being torn apart by an Islamic insurgency and vicious political infighting.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also applauded Maliki’s move.

Speaking at Friday prayers Shi’ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called on the new government to stamp out corruption in Iraq.

A sentiment echoed on the streets: “The new prime minister has two main tasks to achieve. The first is fight terrorism and the second is to fight the financial corruption which has prevailed in government institutions.”

Latest reports suggest Islamic State fighters are massing around Qara Tappa, 122 km from the capital.

The militants have threatened to march on Baghdad.