Iraqi PM Abadi to seek re-election in May vote

Sunday, 14 Jan, 2018

In a statement released on Saturday, the Iraqi Prime Ministry's press office announced formation of the Iraq Victory coalition and "called on all political groups to join the "non-ethnic national coalition".

"Differences between Abadi and Maliki do not stop at registration in a single electoral list, but to original rising of Abadi to prime minister, contrary to the Maliki's desire -which got further rooted in the last four years since Abadi's inaugural", a source speaking under conditions of anonymity said.

Iraqi laws do not allow members of the armed forces, including the Shiite Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) militias to run for elections. Hashed Al Shaabi formed in 2014 after Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, urged citizens to take up arms against ISIL militants.

The prime minister's main opponent is expected to be Nouri Al Maliki, who served as prime minister for eight years before stepping down in 2014.

Now holding a ceremonial title as Vice-President of Iraq, Maliki remains a powerful politician as the leader of the Dawa Party and the head of the largest political coalition in the Iraqi Parliament. The latter was heavily criticized for being a close ally of Iran and was blamed for the Iraqi Army's collapse in 2014 following the emergence of IS in the north of the country. Mr Al Maliki was also accused of alienating Iraq's Sunni minority and for pursuing sectarian policies. Since then, Iraqi forces backed by a US -led coalition have gradually retaken all the territory once held by the Sunni extremists.

Maliki is the head of Dawa Party, the backbone of the ruling Shiite National alliance that includes nearly all prominent Iraqi Shiite parties.

On Saturday, al-Maliki told Dawa supporters they would be free to choose between his alliance, called "state of law", and al-Abadi's "victory alliance".