The political unrest in the Arab countries may have even touched the most dangerous country in the Muslim world, war-ravaged Iraq.
According to state media, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has said he will not seek a third term in office after his current one expires in 2014.
He also said he would support a measure in the constitution to impose a two-term limit for future Iraqi leaders.
The constitution does not prevent a third, fourth or fifth term, but I have personally decided not to seek another term after this one,” Maliki told Agence France-Presse. I support the insertion of a paragraph in the constitution that the prime minister gets only two turns, only eight years, and I think that's enough.
Maliki entered his second term in office last year, but went through nine months of political limbo before the formation of a unity government.
In an explicit reference to the political maelstrom in Egypt, he said: The people have the right to express what they want without being persecuted. One of the characteristics of a lack of democracy is when a leader rules for thirty or forty years. It is a difficult issue for people, it is intolerable and change is necessary.
Maliki also recently said he would return half of his salary back to the treasury – a likely concession to complaints about the widening gap in income between the wealthy elite and the poor.
According to media reports, Maliki is believed to earn about $350,000 per year.
However, a government spokesman denied any connection between ongoing events in other Muslim countries in the region and Maliki’s recent actions.
“Don’t take it in the frame of the recent wave with [Yemeni leader] Ali Abdullah Saleh and whatever is going on,” Ali al-Moussawi said. “What the prime minister has done is about the democratic process.”
Maliki’s opponents strongly disagree.
Fatah al-Sheikh said Maliki “saw what is going on the Arab streets and he knows the Iraqi street is not satisfied with what he has given them. A year has passed with his promises for services and security and the situation is going to get worse.”
Meanwhile, after more than eight years of war, Maliki must prepare for the withdrawal of U.S. troops later this year.