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Iraq's al-Maliki says he will not stand for prime minister; supports candidacy of al-Abadi

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    Pro-government supporters of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, chant slogans during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014. Tanks and Humvees were positioned on Baghdad bridges and at major intersections on Wednesday, with security personnel more visible than usual as pro-Maliki demonstrators took to Firdous Square in the capital, pledging their allegiance to him. Arabic on the placard at right reads, "al-Maliki is our choice." (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    Civilians inspect the site of a car bomb attack near a restaurant in the southeastern district of New Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. A string of attacks in and around the capital killed more than a dozen and wounded dozens. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community gather for humanitarian aid at Nowruz camp, in Derike, Syria, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. In the camps here, Iraqi refugees have new heroes: Syrian Kurdish fighters who battled militants to carve an escape route to tens of thousands trapped on a mountaintop. While the U.S. and Iraqi militaries dropped food and water to the starving members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, the Kurds took it on themselves to rescue them, a sign of how Syria’s Kurds, like Iraq’s, are using the region’s conflicts to establish their own rule. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-365

    Pro-government supporters of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, chant slogans during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014. Tanks and Humvees were positioned on Baghdad bridges and at major intersections on Wednesday, with security personnel more visible than usual as pro-Maliki demonstrators took to Firdous Square in the capital, pledging their allegiance to him. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-366

    Iraqi policemen and civilians inspect the site of a car bomb attack near a restaurant in the southeastern district of New Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. A string of attacks in and around the capital killed more than a dozen and wounded dozens. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    A supporter of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, chants slogans during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014. Tanks and Humvees were positioned on Baghdad bridges and at major intersections on Wednesday, with security personnel more visible than usual as pro-Maliki demonstrators took to Firdous Square in the capital, pledging their allegiance to him. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    FILE - In this Friday, March 26, 2010 file photo, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki speaks to the press in Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq's Nouri al-Maliki has given up his post as prime minister to Haider al-Abadi, state television reported Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 — a move that could end a political deadlock that plunged Baghdad into uncertainty as the country fights a Sunni militant insurgency. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban, File)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-369

    Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community gather for humanitarian aid at Nowruz camp, in Derike, Syria, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. In the camps here, Iraqi refugees have new heroes: Syrian Kurdish fighters who battled militants to carve an escape route to tens of thousands trapped on a mountaintop. While the U.S. and Iraqi militaries dropped food and water to the starving members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, the Kurds took it on themselves to rescue them, a sign of how Syria’s Kurds, like Iraq’s, are using the region’s conflicts to establish their own rule. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • APTOPIX-Mideast-Iraq-24

    Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community look for clothes to wear among items provided by a charity organization at the Nowruz camp, in Derike, Syria, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. In the camps here, Iraqi refugees have new heroes: Syrian Kurdish fighters who battled militants to carve an escape route to tens of thousands trapped on a mountaintop. While the U.S. and Iraqi militaries dropped food and water to the starving members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, the Kurds took it on themselves to rescue them, a sign of how Syria’s Kurds, like Iraq’s, are using the region’s conflicts to establish their own rule. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-370

    An Iraqi policeman and civilians inspect the site of a car bomb attack in central Baghdad's busy commercial Karradah neighborhood, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014. On Tuesday night, a car bomb exploded in the commercial district of Karrada, killing and wounded scores of people. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • APTOPIX-Mideast-Iraq-25

    An Iraqi woman pauses at the site of a car bomb attack in central Baghdad's busy commercial Karradah neighborhood, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014. On Tuesday night, a car bomb exploded in the commercial district of Karrada, killing and wounded scores of people. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-371

    FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 file photo, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq's Nouri al-Maliki has given up his post as prime minister to Haider al-Abadi, state television reported Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 — a move that could end a political deadlock that plunged Baghdad into uncertainty as the country fights a Sunni militant insurgency. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban, File)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-372

    Civilians salvage what they can of their belongings at the site of a car bomb attack in central Baghdad's busy commercial Karradah neighborhood, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014. On Tuesday night, a car bomb exploded in the commercial district of Karrada, killing and wounded scores of people. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-373

    Civilians inspect the site of a car bomb attack near a restaurant in the southeastern district of New Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. A string of attacks in and around the capital killed more than a dozen and wounded dozens. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

BAGHDAD — Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister for the past eight years, says he is relinquishing the post to fellow Dawa Party member Haider al-Abadi.

Al-Maliki says his decision is based on his desire to “safeguard the high interests of the country,” adding that he will not be the cause of any bloodshed.

“I will stay a combat soldier to defend Iraq and its people,” he added in the televised address late Thursday, with al-Abadi standing by his side.

Iraq’s President Fouad Massoum named al-Abadi on Monday to form the next government, but al-Maliki had until now refused to step aside.

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