Nouri al-Maliki (left) shakes hands with his successor, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in 2014. AP file photo.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Vice President Nouri al-Maliki are to take part in the Iraqi general elections later this year on two different lists, their ruling Dawa Party decided following a meeting attended by the two influential leaders on Saturday.
The party said in a statement that their party members are free to run for the elections on separate lists for the elections.
“The party does not find it necessary to take part in the election under its name,” the statement on Saturday evening read.
PM Abadi is to form a coalition for the elections called Nasr, meaning Victory in Arabic, Haidar Hamada, Abadi’s media secretary stated on Thursday, adding that Abadi will have candidates in all “Iraqi provinces.”
He said that a great number of politicians from other Iraqi parties may join Abadi’s coalition including “those who fought against ISIS,” a reference to the powerful Iran-backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi.
Iraqi laws do not allow members of the armed forces, including the Hashd, to run for elections. But they can do so if they first quit their military role and disarm.
It is not clear whether Abadi will have candidates in the Kurdish provinces.
VP Maliki will head the State of Law Coalition, according to Afaq TV, a media linked to the Shiite politician.
Maliki is the head of Dawa Party, the backbone of the ruling Shiite National alliance that includes almost all prominent Iraqi Shiite parties.
In mid-December, Maliki said the party may have two different lists in the upcoming elections scheduled for May 12, but under the same supervision.
Abadi became the prime minister of Iraq in 2014 when about one third of the country was under control of ISIS including Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul. Supported by the US-led Global Coalition and the Kurdish Peshmerga, Abadi was able to finally defeat the extremist group in late 2017.
Maliki is largely blamed for the rise of the Sunni insurgency and then ISIS during his term in office from 2006-2014, a fact that later cost him the position of prime minister. But he remained influential, mainly because of his status on the parliamentary group of the State of Law Coalition.
Iraq’s Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni politician, in November praised the leadership of PM Abadi, but advised him to form an independent political party if he wants to establish a working partnership with the country’s Sunni and Kurdish populations.