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BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will not run for a third term in 2014, an adviser said Saturday, limiting himself in the name of democracy while keeping a wary eye on the popular anger at governments across the Middle East.
Al-Maliki, a Shiite, narrowly held onto a second four-year term despite falling short in national elections last year. His successor will be the first to lead without U.S. military help since the fall of Saddam Hussein after American troops fully withdraw as planned by the end of this year.
The prime minister made no public statements on Saturday, but his decision was broadcast on state TV and confirmed by his media adviser, Ali al-Moussawi.
Al-Moussawi said al-Maliki also wants to change the Iraqi constitution before he leaves office to limit all future prime ministers to two terms.
"Eight years is enough for him, in order to not convert to a dictatorship," al-Moussawi told The Associated Press, as state TV announced al-Maliki's decision. "This is the principle and the concept of democracy."
Saturday's stunning announcement follows al-Maliki's decision a day earlier to return half of his annual salary to the government — a move he said was aimed at narrowing the wide gap between rich and poor Iraqis.
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