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Abadi, Maliki To Head Separate Lists In Upcoming Iraqi Elections

Iraqi Vice President Nuri al-Maliki (left) and new Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi shake hands during the session to approve the new government in Baghdad in September 2014.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi says he will be a candidate in the parliamentary elections tentatively scheduled for May 12.
Abadi on January 14 said he will seek to form a new coalition -- dubbed Victory and Reform -- and field candidates in all Iraqi provinces.

Abadi belongs to the Dawa party, a Shi'ite group with close ties to Iran. But analysts say he has managed relations with Iraq's Sunni minority better than his predecessor, Nuri al-Maliki, and also improved Baghdad's ties with Sunni Saudi Arabia.

Abadi was not previously elected prime minister, having taken over after Maliki was pressured to step down in 2014.

Abadi is credited with helping to lead the country to victory in the four-year war against the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Maliki holds the mainly ceremonial post of vice president but maintains substantial power as head of the Dawa party. He said on January 13 that he will also be running in the May elections as part of a different alliance -- called State of Law.

He told Dawa backers that they would be free to choose between his alliance and that of Abadi.

The parliamentary vote has been tentatively set for May 12, although the date must still be approved by parliament.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Rudaw, and Al-Arabiya