The New York Times reports that even if Maliki lost the Iraqi election he shows no interest in stepping down:
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s party lost the Iraqi election, but a day after the results were announced it became clear that he would fight to hold on to his post — and had taken steps to do so even before the outcome became public.
On Thursday, a day before the results were announced, he quietly persuaded the Iraqi supreme court to issue a ruling that potentially allows him to choose the new government instead of awarding that right to the winner of the election, the former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi.
On another front, officials in charge of purging the government of former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party said Saturday that they still expected to disqualify more than 50 political candidates, many of them members of Mr. Allawi’s Iraqiya Party. That could strip Mr. Allawi of his plurality, 91 parliamentary seats compared with 89 for Mr. Maliki’s State of Law party.
And if all that does not work, the prime minister still is clamoring for a recount, and he said he planned to file a legal appeal even though the United Nations, the elections commission and international observers have declared the election valid. Ultimately, the same Supreme Federal Court, which is nominally independent but has proved friendly to Mr. Maliki in the past, will decide the recount issue.
At least four Sunni Muslim candidates who appear to have won parliamentary seats on the winning ticket of secular leader Ayad Allawi have become targets of investigation by security forces reporting to the narrowly defeated Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, according to interviews Saturday with relatives, Iraqi security forces and the U.S. military.
All four candidates ran in Diyala province, a restive mainly Sunni area north of Baghdad. One candidate who won more than 28,000 votes is being held incommunicado in a Baghdad jail, two other winners are on the run and the whereabouts of the fourth, a woman, are unknown.
Maliki alluded to the cases in his televised refusal Friday to accept a loss in the March 7 parliamentary elections, saying of unnamed rival candidates: “What would happen if some of them are in prison now on terror accusations and they participated in the elections and might win?”
Maliki’s critics say the Shiite prime minister is using state security forces and the courts to remove political rivals – especially prominent Sunnis – in a last-ditch effort to disqualify candidates from Allawi’s Iraqiya coalition, which holds only a two-seat lead ahead of Maliki’s State of Law bloc.