Iraq's al-Abadi hints he will not run for premiership

By Haydar Karaalp

BAGHDAD (AA) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday said he had no desire to run for the post of prime minister for a second term.

Al-Abadi, who leads the Islamic Dawa Party, was elected prime minister in September 2014 and had served as communication minister from 2003 to 2004, in the first government after Saddam Hussein.

"We respect and obey the instructions of the religious authority Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. I did not and will not request the post of prime minister in the second term," Abadi said at a news conference in Baghdad.

Abadi urged that the change in the government should be in peaceful terms, not by armed clashes.

"Our service for the [Iraqi] people will continue until the new government is established. We will give everyone a lesson on how to make a governmental change in peaceful ways."

On Monday, prominent Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani announced that he would not support either current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi or former PM Nouri al-Maliki to lead Iraq’s next government.

Al-Sistani enjoys the respect of a large segment of the population, especially in Iraq’s Shia-majority central and southern provinces.

Formation of a new government has been stalled since May, when Iraq held a hard-fought parliamentary poll, the results of which were later subject to a recount.