Kerry warns al-Maliki: Don't 'stir those waters'

 

Secretary of State John Kerry urged Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki not to "stir those waters" and make it more difficult for Iraq to form a new government. 

Kerry said the United States fully supports President Fouad Massoum, saying he is responsible for "upholding the constitution of Iraq, he is the elected president."

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"And at this moment, Iraq has clearly made a statement that they're looking for change," Kerry said in a statement from Australia on Monday morning. "Among the Shia, it is very, very evident that they have three candidates or so for prime minister, none of whom are Mr. Maliki. So what we urge the people of Iraq to do is to be calm."

Al-Maliki accused the president of violating the constitution in preventing his reelection as prime minister. He feels he should remain at the post after his coalition won the most seats in parliament, according to The Associated Press. However, many have called on him to step down. 

Special forces loyal to al-Maliki were reportedly deployed in the capital of Baghdad after the prime minister made the accusation. 

Kerry warned against the use of force. When asked if al-Maliki should go, Kerry said it is up to the people of Iraq to choose a new prime minister. 

"There should be no use of force, no introduction of troops or militias into this moment of democracy for Iraq," he said. "Iraq needs to finish its government formation process and the United States will do everything possible in order to support and uphold the constitution that the new president is, in fact, following appropriately."

"And our hope is that Mr. Maliki will not stir those waters," he added.

The United States has launched a number of air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the last few days.

The United States and other countries have also begun dropping humanitarian aid to help the thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority who have been stranded near Mount Sinjar, fleeing violence from ISIS. 

Kerry said international support would dwindle without a legitimate constitutional process. 

President Obama made a similar statement on Saturday. 

"So we’re going to be pushing very hard to encourage Iraqis to get their government together," Obama said. "Until we do that, it is going to be hard to get the unity of effort that allows us to not just play defense, but also engage in some offense."