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Iraq: Maliki facing deadline to drop premiership bid - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, center, waits for US Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of a meeting at the prime minister's office in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki (C), waits for US Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of a meeting at the prime minister’s office in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Prominent Iraqi Shi’a parties have given the ruling State of Law coalition until the end of Thursday to drop its nomination of Nuri Al-Maliki for a controversial third term as prime minister or face rival leadership bids from within the Shi’ite-led National Alliance.

Two prominent members of the National Alliance, the Sadrist Movement led by Moqtada Al-Sadr, and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) led by Ammar Al-Hakim, have become increasingly disillusioned with Maliki’s leadership.

Maliki cannot hope to secure a third term in office without the backing of Iraq’s Shi’a political parties. The National Alliance is meeting on Thursday and Friday to discuss potential nominations ahead of the first meeting of Iraq’s new parliament on July 1.

“The ISCI and the Sadrist Movement have reached the end of their patience with the State of Law coalition’s commitment to Maliki as their sole nominee for the premiership . . . The State of Law coalition have until the end of Thursday to put forward an alternative candidate to Maliki or we will put forward a consensus candidate ourselves,” Sadrist spokesman Amir Al-Kinani told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Kinani, who is a lawmaker for the Sadrist-affiliated Al-Ahrar bloc, said the Sadrist Movement and ISCI are giving the State of Law coalition the opportunity to “protect the unity of the National Alliance as the biggest political bloc in parliament” by dropping Maliki.

“It is clear that they either do not know what has befallen the country over the past two weeks or they do not care about its disastrous consequences,” he added in reference to the security crisis that has gripped the country following the advance of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters.

Kinani’s comments were issued in response to Maliki’s speech on Wednesday rejecting the formation of a national salvation government. Such calls represent a “coup against the constitution and an attempt to end the democratic experience,” he said, adding that “this is an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the votes of the voters.”

“Maliki’s remarks about conspirators and agents remind us of the Saddam Hussein days when he used to level accusations at everyone regardless of the dangers and crises facing the country,” Kinani told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Alliance threatened to boycott the July 1 parliamentary session, fearing that Maliki could seek to use the first session of the new parliament to push for a third term in office.

“Sitting with the State of Law coalition has become difficult for us,” Shawan Mohammed Taha, a senior leader in the Kurdistan Alliance, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The Kurdistan Alliance will not join any government involving Maliki, and this is an unchangeable stance which we relayed to both our partners and the Americans,” he added.