Iraqi Kurds demand 'hysterical' PM Maliki's resignation

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (C) and acting Defence Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi (R) attend the funeral ceremony of Major General Negm Abdullah Ali at the defence ministry in Baghdad, July 7. REUTERS Photo

Iraq's Kurds said July 10 Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was "hysterical" and not fit to run the country, further dimming the prospect of a new leadership uniting to face jihadist fighters.

The worsening political discord comes three days ahead of a planned parliamentary session meant to revive the process of replacing what has effectively been a caretaker government since April elections.

Maliki "has become hysterical and has lost his balance," a statement from the office of Kurdish regional president Massoud Barzani said, reacting to accusations by the prime minister a day earlier that his administration was harbouring militants.

Kurdish troops moved into disputed areas vacated by federal forces that failed to stop a Sunni militant onslaught that began on June 9.

The Kurds have since said those swathes of land were theirs to keep, and announced plans to hold a referendum on independence.

Maliki has accused Barzani of exploiting the chaos created by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group's military offensive, but the Kurdish president said the security collapse was of the premier's own making.

"You must apologise to the Iraqi people and step down. You have destroyed the country and someone who has destroyed the country cannot save the country from crises," the statement said.

Since IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a "caliphate" twice the size of Israel on land straddling Iraq and Syria, militants have not made any further significant advances.

But Iraqi forces have also struggled to reclaim lost ground, and the front lines north and west of Baghdad were increasingly looking like the de facto borders of a partitioned Iraq.

Despite backing in the shape of hardware, manpower and...

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