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Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister for the past eight years, says he is relinquishing the post to fellow Dawa Party member Haider al-Abadi. Al-Maliki says his decision is based on his desire to "safeguard the high interests of the country," adding in a televised address late Thursday that he will not be the cause of any bloodshed.
Al-Maliki has been struggling for weeks to stay for a third four-year term as prime minister amid an attempt by opponents to push him out, accusing him of monopolizing 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 another member of his party, Haider al-Abadi, to replace him, and President Fouad Massoum nominated al-Abadi to form the next government. Al-Maliki for days had refused to step aside, saying the nomination violates the constitution.
- The Associated Press