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Al Abadi turns down Al Maliki’s advice

THE LEVANT  – Prime Minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi rejected a call made by his predecessor Nuri Al-Maliki not to entertain “preconditions” from Iraq’s Sunnis, stressing that he is committed to forming a national unity government that includes all Iraqi political and sectarian factions.

In a statement on Thursday, Abadi said: “I am committed to the recommendations put forward by the religious authorities [in Iraq] regarding the necessity of forming a government that enjoys broad consensus.” He added that the next Baghdad government must be able to establish security and stability and resolve the many problems facing the country, not least the continuing advance of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters.

The prime minister-designate said that government formation efforts are progressing well, particularly after top Kurdish ministers rejoined the cabinet earlier this week.

“The government formation negotiations are moving forward in an encouraging manner. The political factions have put forward their views, and we are discussing this. We hope to reach an agreement on the new cabinet as soon as possible,” Abadi said.

He called on Iraq’s divided political factions to “overcome their differences and move forward in the political process, turning over a new page for the sake of Iraq and the Iraqi people.”

Abadi’s comments come just one day after outgoing prime minister Nuri Al-Maliki explicitly called on him to reject any Sunni preconditions for joining the new government.

“Setting conditions before the formation of the government will damage the political process . . .Abadi must refuse to be dictated to by political blocs,” Maliki said in his weekly address.

Maliki called on his successor to explicitly reject Sunni preconditions for joining the new government; Iraq’s Sunni blocs have threatened to boycott the new government if demands are not met.

The deadline for Abadi to announce the formation of a new government expires on September 10.

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