Iraq’s deputy speaker Haider al-Abadi has been nominated to replace Nouri Maliki as prime minister by President Fuad Masum.
Maliki initially disputed al-Abadi’s appointment as the preferred candidate of the umbrella Shia State of Law political coalition, but after causing concern of a possible coup when pro-Maliki security forces took to the streets of Baghdad, the incumbent has now stepped aside.
Under the Iraq constitution, al-Abadi must now form a government and be confirmed by parliament within 30 days.
As prime minister, al-Abadi will lead a divided country and must rebuilt trust with Iraq’s Sunni and Kurd communities that had been widely discriminated against under Maliki. He will also face a growing insurgency in the north of the country where militants from the Islamic state have made major inroads in recent weeks.
Al-Abadi, 61, returned to Iraq from exile in London after the 2003 Iraq War and has held a number of high profile political posts and has been circulated as a prime ministerial candidate in every election since 2006.