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Former Iraq parliament speaker to step aside so Maliki can go

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Former Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a major political foe of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said he would not nominate himself for another term to make it easier for the Shi'ite political parties to replace the premier.

"I appreciate the demands of the brothers in the National Alliance who see that Maliki will insist on holding on to the premiership if I nominate myself for speaker of the Council of the Representatives," he said, according to a text of the speech published on his Facebook page late on Thursday.

The National Alliance is a bloc comprising the country's biggest Shi'ite parties, including both Maliki's list and his foes.

"Out of respect for them and in order to achieve the interests of the people and the country and to defend the oppressed and those who hold rights, I have decided not to nominate myself," said Sunni Muslim Nujaifi.