Iraq Prime Minister Al Maliki steps down

(AP)

Iraq’s prime minister for the past eight years said on Thursday he is relinquishing the post to fellow Dawa Party member Haider al-Abadi.

Nouri al-Maliki said his decision is based on his desire to “safeguard the high interests of the country,” adding that he will not be the cause of any bloodshed.

“My post is your confidence in me,” he declared in a televised address.

Al-Maliki has been struggling for weeks to stay on for a third four-year term as prime minister amid an attempt by opponents to push him out, accusing him of monopolising power and pursuing a fiercely pro-Shiite agenda that has alienated the Sunni minority.

The pressure intensified this week when his Shiite political alliance backed al-Abadi to replace him, and President Fouad Massoum nominated al-Abadi to form the next government.

Al-Maliki had for days refused to step aside, threatening legal action against the president for what he said was a violation of the constitution.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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