Iraq’s incumbent prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, vowed Friday not to drop his quest for a third term in power defying growing domestic and foreign pressure for him to step aside.
“I will never give up my candidacy for the post of prime minister,” Maliki said in a statement read on state television by an announcer.
“I will remain a soldier, defending the interests of Iraq and its people, in the face of the (Islamic State) terrorists and its allies, the Baathists and the Naqshbandi, who are executing a dubious outside agenda.”
He was referring to some of the most prominent armed Sunni groups, who have seized control of large swathes of majority-Sunni regions of Iraq since last month.
Responsible for a sectarian war
Maliki's State of Law coalition won far more seats than anyone else in April elections, but the premier is accused by critics, even from his own Shiite Arab majority, of steering the country towards all-out sectarian war.
"The State of Law coalition is the biggest bloc and has the right to the premiership and any other side has no right to put conditions, because putting conditions means dictatorship and we strongly reject this," the defiant premier said.
Maliki, who once pledged he would not seek a third time, took a hit last month when jihadist-led Sunni militants overran the country's second city Mosul virtually unimpeded and took control of large swathes of territory in five provinces.
His opponents argue that he is to blame because he has allowed corruption and sectarianism to flourish during his time in office fostering anger in the Sunni Arab minority and pushing the Kurds along the road to independence.
"The withdrawal from the battlefield in the face of terrorist organisations that are enemies of Islam and of humanity, would be an abrogation of legitimate national and moral responsibility," Maliki said.
Western powers, as well as Iraq's top Shiite cleric, have stressed that pressing on with the political process by agreeing on a speaker, president and government should be the top priority and a necessary basis for tackling the jihadists.
But Maliki has emphasised the military option since the militant onslaught.
"I have made a promise to God that I will continue to fight by the side of the armed forces and volunteers until the final defeat of the enemies of Iraq," he said.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)
Date created : 2014-07-04