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The choice of Haider al-Abadi to become Iraq’s next prime minister, a move that would end Nouri al-Maliki’s eight-year rule, came as a surprise to many Iraqis. He was not among the best-known members of the Baghdad political elite, nor an obvious choice to replace the embattled premier. Al-Abadi accepted the nomination Monday to form a government in the next 30 days as parts of the country remain in the hands of the radical Islamic State group and its Sunni allies and a political firestorm brews in Baghdad with incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki insisting he will stay in power.

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