Obama throws support behind Maliki successor in Iraq

US President Barack Obama on Monday urged a quick political transition in Iraq in a rebuke to controversial prime minister Nuri al-Maliki. -- PHOTO: AFP 
US President Barack Obama on Monday urged a quick political transition in Iraq in a rebuke to controversial prime minister Nuri al-Maliki. -- PHOTO: AFP 

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama on Monday urged a quick political transition in Iraq in a rebuke to controversial prime minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Mr Obama said that he as well as Vice President Joe Biden called prime minister-designate Haidar al-Abadi to offer support, as US forces conduct air strikes against Sunni Islamist extremists who have swept across Iraq.

Stressing his position that there is "no American military solution" to the Iraq crisis, Mr Obama called Mr Abadi's nomination to replace the controversial Mr Nuri al-Maliki "a promising step." "The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government," Mr Obama said, after criticism that Mr Maliki has ruled divisively to advance Iraq's Shi'ite majority.

"This new leadership has a difficult task to regain the confidence of its citizens by governing inclusively and taking steps to demonstrate its resolve," he told the press during his vacation in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Mr Maliki has called the selection of Mr Abadi, a member of his party, a violation of the Iraqi constitution carried out with US support.

But Mr Obama said he "pledged our support" to Mr Abadi and called on him "to form a new cabinet as quickly as possible." "I urge all Iraqi political leaders to work peacefully through the political process in the days ahead," Mr Obama said.