Iraqi prime minister vows to defeat 'enemies'

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki vowed on Friday to seek a third term in office despite growing pressure for him to step aside. 

He pledged to stay on until he defeats Islamic militants who have taken over much of the country, defying international arguments that his continued leadership is fueling the insurgency and ripping apart the country. 

“I have made a promise to God that I will continue to fight by the side of the armed forces and volunteers until the final defeat of the enemies of Iraq," he said in a statement, according to news reports. 

"I will never give up on my candidacy for the post of prime minister."

There is growing concern, even among his own Shia constituency, that his continued tenure is likely to extend the political impasse gripping Iraq that threatens cut the nation along three ethnic and sectarian lines.

The move by militants to take over most of northern and western Iraq since June has stemmed from complaints about al-Maliki and his Shiite-led government among the country's Sunni Muslim minority.

Al-Maliki, is a Shiite who has been prime minister since 2006, has been accused taking too much control for himself and failing to attempt a resolution with Sunnis as the country teeters on collapse. 

Maliki's State of Law bloc won a majority of the parliamentary seats in April elections. But he failed to win a majority in the legislature, meaning he needs help to form a government. 

The United States has pushed for the formation of a more inclusive government but has not called for al-Maliki to leave.

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, has pressed lawmakers to quickly form a new government that can handle the militant threat and unite the country. 

On Tuesday, lawmakers failed in their first session of parliament to make any progress on that front. 

On Friday, al-Sistani, noting the difficulty that political leaders face in choosing a new prime minister urged them to redouble their efforts to agree on a new prime minister.