Maliki’s successor was named, even as the incumbent insisted on clinging on for a third term. AFP file photo.
BAGHDAD, Iraq – As Iraq’s Kurds headed for Baghdad to negotiate their place in the next government, outgoing prime minister Nouri al-Maliki said Wednesday that anyone who does not support Iraq’s unity should not be in the new government.
“Nobody should be in the government if they do not support the unity of Iraq, if they are sectarian, or support militias, or if they are influenced by foreign agendas,” said Maliki during a weekly televised speech.
“Political stability is a must. We must avoid rivalry and delaying tactics in the new government,” said Maliki, whose successor was named even as he insisted on clinging for a third term.
Maliki’s speech came as delegates from the autonomous Kurdistan Region, which has furiously opposed Maliki and has announced plans for a referendum to separate from Iraq, were headed for Baghdad to negotiate ministerial posts in the new government.
Outgoing foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, said the Kurdish bloc would sit in the government only if their rights and demands are respected.
“The decision of the Kurdish leadership and all the Kurdish parties is that we should participate in the next government, but it must be based on our rights. We won’t take part without a clear plan,” Zebari warned in an interview with Rudaw.
The Kurdish government in Erbil, as well as many Iraqis, have blamed Maliki’s sectarian policies for the current crisis in Iraq, where jihadists from the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) have captured large parts of territory in northern Iraq since June.
Maliki said in his speech that negotiations for the new government are underway with all political blocs, led by the newly designated Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.
“We welcome those who agree or disagree with us in the political process, but not those that work for foreign agendas,” said Maliki. “We will not allow the delaying of the new government, regardless of whichever bloc participates or not,” he said in a comment clearly aimed at the Kurds.