WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States threw its weight behind Iraqi President Fuad Masum on Sunday after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced on state television he would be filing a complaint against Masum, as security forces massed in the capital.
"Fully support President of #Iraq Fuad Masum as guarantor of the Constitution and a PM nominee who can build a national consensus," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Brett McGurk on Twitter.
Maliki, who has been under huge pressure to give up his bid for a third term, announced his plans to file a complaint in a surprise address on Sunday night, alleging newly-elected Masum had violated the constitution twice, including by failing to task a prime minister-designate with forming a new government.
Meanwhile, security sources on Monday said Iraqi police, army and counter-terrorism forces were deployed in unusually high numbers across strategic locations in Baghdad overnight.
"There is security everywhere in Baghdad, these are very unusual measures that look like those we impose for a state of emergency," a high-ranking police official said.
"Several streets have been closed... as well as some key bridges," said an official at the interior ministry.
"It's all linked to the political situation."
Many Iraqis see Maliki as partly responsible for the recent conflict in northern Iraq, for having institutionalised sectarianism.
Washington, Teheran, the Shiite religious leadership and much of Maliki's own party have pulled their support, but he has dug his heels in and apparently not yet given up on seeking a third term.