Speed Reads

Iraq

Iraq Prime Minister Maliki makes it official, agrees to step aside

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday night that he will step aside to make way for Haider al-Abadi, the candidate selected by Maliki's own Dawa Party and endorsed by President Fuad Masum, the U.S., and Iran. Maliki's support crumbled on Tuesday, but his agreeing to relinquish power still promises a huge milestone for Iraq: A peaceful, democratic handover of power, without direct outside string-pulling.

Maliki announced his decision on live TV, standing next to his anointed successor: "I announce before you today, to facilitate the political process and to form a new government, that I withdraw my candidacy in favor of the brother Dr. Haider al-Abadi, and all that goes with that in order to preserve the high interests of the country."

Maliki has been informally assured that he will be protected from prosecution and will have a position in the next government, possibly vice president, The New York Times reports.