Iraq's Political Crisis Deepens As Nouri al-Maliki Threatens Legal Action Against President

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  • Al Maliki Supporters_Baghdad_Aug11
    Iraqis carry a portrait of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as they march in support of him in Baghdad on Aug. 11, 2014.
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    Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki casts his ballot during parliamentary election in Baghdad April 30, 2014.
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    Iraqis wave their national flags as they march in support of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad on Aug. 9, 2014.
  • haider al abadi
    Iraq's deputy speaker Haider Al Abadi addresses a plenary session at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva December 12, 2003
  • nouri al maliki supporters
    Iraqis participate in a march to support Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, August 9, 2014.
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Update as of 6:15 a.m. EDT: BBC has reported that a court in Iraq has denied a state television report, which emerged earlier on Monday, that it had ruled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s bloc as the biggest in the country’s parliament. The ruling is significant because al-Maliki is seeking a third term in office while the country's newest president, who is required by the nation's constitition to announce a new prime minister within 15 days of taking office, is yet to do so.

Update as of 4:20 a.m. EDT: An Iraqi court has ruled that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s bloc is the biggest in the country’s parliament, which means he could continue as prime minister for a third term, Reuters reported, citing state television.

Update as of 3:30 a.m. EDT: Haider al-Abadi, deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament and a potential successor to Nouri al-Maliki, said that a bloc of the country’s biggest Shia parties is close to nominating a prime minister, Reuters reported Monday. He also added that government security personnel were being deployed in Baghdad in response to reports of forces loyal to al-Maliki gathering in the capital.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his support for Iraq's new President Fouad Massoum, Agence France-Presse reported.

 

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday said that he will file a formal complaint against President Fouad Massoum for “committing a violation of the constitution.” Al-Maliki, whose Shia-dominated Islamic Dawa Party won the most seats in the election held in April, is seeking a third term as prime minister of the strife-torn country.

“I will present today a formal complaint to the Federal Court against the President of the Republic for committing a violation of the constitution based explicitly on political calculations...at the expense of the interests of the Iraqi people,” al-Maliki said, in a nationally televised speech late Sunday.

According to the Iraqi constitution, the president is required to name a new prime minister within 15 days of the former's election. However, Massoum, who was elected president on July 24, has still not done that, committing, according to al-Maliki, a “coup against the constitution and the political process.”

"The deliberate violation of the constitution by the president will have grave consequences on the unity, the sovereignty, and the independence of Iraq and the entry of the political process into a dark tunnel,” he said.

U.S. State department spokesperson Marie Harf, in a statement released just hours after al-Maliki’s speech, said that the U.S. “fully supports President Fouad Massoum in his role as guarantor of the Iraqi Constitution,” Agence France-Presse reported.

Al-Maliki’s strongly-worded statement comes at a time when the country's north is witnessing a fierce battle between Kurdish peshmerga fighters, who are supported by air strikes from the U.S., and militants from the Sunni extremist group, Islamic State, formerly known as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

Kurdish fighters were able to push the militants out of the villages of Makhmour and al-Gweir, some 28 miles from the Kurdish capital of Irbil on Sunday. Meanwhile, the U.S. also launched a fourth round of air strikes in Irbil on Sunday as part of its efforts to help the Iraqi government by blunting the militants' force.

Following his speech, troops loyal to al-Maliki have reportedly been deployed in strategic sites around Baghdad. 

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