Iraq’s president asks Haider al-Abadi, deputy parliamentary speaker, to form a new government – a move that will be resisted by incumbent prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Mr al-Maliki is fighting to keep in his job – with militias loyal to him deployed in Baghdad’s streets last night and a speech on state television in which he accused President Fouad Masoum of violating the constitution.
However, President Masoum has moved forwards with the plan to replace Maliki – who was serving in a caretaker fashion following inconclusive elections in April. Mr al-Maliki, a Shia, has been accused of alienating the country’s Sunni population – resulting in some parts of teh group siding with militant group Islamic State as it advances through Iraq.
Kurds, Shia and some Sunnis have called for Mr al-Maliki’s departure, and the US and Iran have also voiced concerns.
On Monday Secretary fo State John Kerry said: “The government formation process is critical in terms of sustaining stability and calm in Iraq, and our hope is that Mr Maliki will not stir those waters.”
Mr al-Abadi, educated at the University of Manchester, appeared on television on Monday shaking hands with President Masoum. In a speech, Mr al-Abadi called on all Iraqis to unite against the “barbaric” Islamic State advance.
“We all have to cooperate to stand against this terrorist campaign launched on Iraq and to stop all terrorist groups,” he said.
Islamic State, the militant group which now controls around a third of Iraq, has made further advances over the past week – prompting the US to begin airstrikes against the group.
Over the weekend it was reported that the group – which promotes its terrifying reputation through slick videos posted on social media – had killed hundreds of member of the minority Yazidi group, with some reported to have been buried alive.
The militants are now thirty minutes drive from their latest target, the Kurdish capital of Erbil in the north of the country.