Thursday, August 14, 2014

Maliki Steps Down

In recent years, many people, most certainly including myself, have argued that Iraqi democracy is highly flawed because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a sectarian strongman who cannot be trusted to respect the rule of law or perhaps even elections.  That makes this news significant:\
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said Thursday night that he had agreed to relinquish power, a move that came after days of crisis in which his deployment of extra security forces around the capital had raised worries of a military coup.
Mr. Maliki’s decision held out the prospect of a peaceful transition of power, based on democratic elections and without the guiding hand of American military forces, which would be a first in modern Iraq’s troubled history of kings, coups and dictatorships. 
His decision to step aside came after heavy pressure from the United States, which has deployed warplanes in Iraq to target Sunni Islamist militants and suggested that more military support would be forthcoming if Mr. Maliki was removed from power. Iran also played a decisive role in convincing Mr. Maliki that he could not stay in power...
Officials said that in days of negotiations over his future, Mr. Maliki was given assurances — although not in a formal agreement — that he would be protected from prosecution. He is also expected to take a post in a new government, and while the position of vice president has been discussed, the matter has not been settled. Mr. Maliki was also assured that members of his bloc — which won the most seats in April’s national elections — would be given their fair share of ministries and other positions.
I'm pondering whether these events in the current circumstances can really count as a "peaceful transfer of power" in the sense used to gauge the health of a democratic system.



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