“The president has breached the constitution twice – once by failing to instruct the nominee of the biggest bloc to form a new government, and again by extending the [15-day] constitutional period for nomination [of a prime minister,” Maliki said, warning that this would have dire consequences for Iraq’s future.
Soon after Maliki’s speech, troops and armoured vehicles were deployed close to Baghdad’s Green Zone, where key government buildings are located. Early the following morning, central Baghdad was closed to allow thousands of Maliki supporters to call for a third term for him.
Ali al-Murshidi, from the Badr Organisation which is a member of Maliki’s State of Law coalition, argues that the fight to retain power is far from over, despite the backing Abadi has received.
“This matter has not ended yet,” he said. “Maliki can file an objection with the federal court on the interpretation of ‘biggest bloc’.”
Maliki argues that following a parliamentary election this April, State of Law holds the most seats. The National Alliance believes it has the greater constitutional claim to be the major bloc.
Political analyst Amir al-Saedi agrees that Maliki still has a chance of hanging onto his job by appealing to the courts. And if Maliki loses, it is essential for Abadi and his allies to be gracious in victory.
Otherwise, Saedi warns, “we won’t have a government that’s capable of delivering the right policies, as there are forces – especially State of Law – that will obstruct this unless they are granted guarantees and privileges”.
Laith Hammoudi is IWPR’s editor in Iraq.