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Iraqi federal court rules Maliki's bloc largest in parliament
The Iraqi federal court on Monday ruled that Nuri al-Maliki's bloc is the largest one in parliament, paving the way for Maliki to stay on as prime minister, amid " grave concern" over the country's political orientation.
"The federal court issued a decree confirming that the State of Law bloc is the largest parliamentary bloc," the state-run Iraqiya channel reported.
Under the Iraqi constitution, the court decision means Iraqi President Fuad Masoum would now ask Maliki to form a new government.
Late on Sunday, Maliki said that he will file a legal complaint against Masoum for violating the constitution by refraining from asking his State of Law Coalition to form the next cabinet after the end of the 15-day constitutional timing.
Following Maliki's tough speech, Iraqi security forces intensified measures across the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The special forces loyal to Maliki were deployed in strategic areas in Baghdad, in particular the areas surrounding the Green Zone, which houses most Iraqi top offices and ministries, as well as the U.S. embassy.
The deployment of the special forces would send a signal to Maliki's political rivals that "he is not willing to retreat from seeking a third-term in office," Jamaa Diwan, a lawmaker from Ahrar parliamentary bloc, loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, told reporters.
Meanwhile, dozens of people loyal to Maliki took to the streets in Fardous Square in central Baghdad, urging a third-term for Maliki. Many threatened to hold sit-ins in the capital if Maliki is not asked to form a new cabinet.
The tension in Baghdad pushed the United Nations envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, who heads the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq ( UNAMI), to issue a statement expressing grave concern over the latest political developments in Iraq and calling on political leaders to respect the constitutional responsibilities of the president.
"The President of Iraq, Dr. Fuad Masoum, is undertaking his duties in line with the constitution and the democratic political process," Mladenov said.
"I trust that, in line with his constitutional obligation, he will ask the largest bloc to nominate a candidate for prime minister who can establish a broad-based and inclusive government that is acceptable to all components of Iraqi society," Mladenov added.
He also urged all Iraqis to exercise restraint and noted that the security forces should not intervene in the struggle of the political process.
On July 24, Iraqi lawmakers elected Masoum as the new president of Iraq, marking an important step forward in forming a new government in the violence-torn country.
Within two weeks after the new president is elected, he must ask the "largest bloc" in the parliament to nominate a prime minister to form a new government, according to Iraq's constitution.
Maliki has been under increasing pressure to give up his attempt for a third term, as the National Alliance, a Shiite bloc, which includes Maliki's State of the Law, sees that the next prime minister must be accepted by other political partners from Kurds and Sunnis.
[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 11Aug14]
War in Iraq
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