Dozens of people loyal to Maliki took to the streets in Fardous Square in central Baghdad, urging a third-term for Maliki. Many threatened to hold sit-ins in the capital if Maliki is not asked to form a new cabinet."
Baghdad, Aug 11 - Iraqi President Fuad Masoum Monday asked Deputy Speaker Haidar al-Abadi to form the next government in the country, media reports said.
The state-run Iraqiya channel showed Masoum signing the letter, granting Abadi, the Shia coalition's nominee for prime minister, the power to form the next government, Xinhua reported.
Salim al-Jubouri, the Iraqi Speaker of parliament, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the head of the Iraqi National Alliance, were present at the televised meeting.
The country is now in your hands, Massoum told Abadi. The deputy speaker thanked Masoum and pledged to do his best to form a government within a month, a time span stipulated in the constitution.
Earlier, the Shia lawmakers in the umbrella organisation the Iraqi National Alliance, which includes Maliki's State of the Law bloc, sent a letter signed by 127 lawmakers, out of more than 170 members in the alliance, to President Masoum, nominating Abadi for the post to replace Maliki, according to Baghdad satellite channel.
Masoum held a meeting with lawmakers of the alliance with the attendance of the Speaker Jubouri, to discuss the political development, the channel said.
The latest move is likely to increase political tension in the country. The Shia National Alliance had won the most parliament seats in the April elections and Maliki had seen himself as keeping the post for a third term. But he has been accused by critics of steering the country toward a sectarian war.
He had earlier accused the president of committing a clear constitutional violation by missing a deadline to ask the biggest bloc in parliament to nominate a prime minister.
In a boost to Maliki's bid to stay on for a third term, a top Iraqi court Monday ruled that his group is the largest in the country's parliament.
The decision meant that President Masoum, who Maliki criticised for not intervening after parliament failed to appoint him, should have invited him to form a government.
Pro-Maliki security forces were Monday seen deployed in strategic areas in the capital city, in particular the areas surrounding the Green Zone, which houses most Iraqi top offices and ministries, as well as the US embassy, Al Jazeera reported.
Dozens of people loyal to Maliki took to the streets in Fardous Square in central Baghdad, urging a third-term for Maliki. Many threatened to hold sit-ins in the capital if Maliki is not asked to form a new cabinet.
Maliki had, however, been under increasing pressure to give up his attempt for a third term.