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Maliki under more pressure to step down

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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki faced more pressure to step down Friday, as Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shiite figure in Iraq appealed to Iraqi politicians not to make themselves “an obstacle” in the country’s transition to a new government.

“The big challenges facing Iraq require that the next government command national and broad acceptance ... to face the crises that are hitting the country,” spokesman Ahmed al-Safi quoted the al-Sistani as saying.

“No one should make himself an obstacle in achieving national consensus,” Safi said during the sermon in the Shiite city of Kabala.

The remarks made by delivered by his spokesman, were another indirect appeal to Maliki to step down.

Also on Friday Iraqi Foreign Minister blamed Nouri al-Maliki for the current crisis in the country.

"Surely the man who is responsible for the general policies bears the responsibility and the general commander of the armed force, the ministers of defence and interior also bear these responsibilities," Zebari told al-Arabiya television.

"There are other sides who bear responsibility, maybe political partners, but the biggest and greatest responsibility is on the person in charge of public policies," he sai