Iraq’s al-Maliki steps aside as prime minister, supports rival, ending political deadlock
BAGHDAD — Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced late Thursday that he was relinquishing his post to his nominated replacement, ending a political deadlock that has plunged the country into uncertainty as it fights a Sunni militant insurgency.
Standing alongside senior members of his party, including rival Haider al-Abadi, al-Maliki said he was stepping aside in favor of his “brother,” in order to “facilitate the political process and government formation.”
Al-Maliki had been struggling for weeks to stay on for a third four-year term as prime minister amid an attempt by opponents to push him out, accusing him of monopolizing power and pursuing a fiercely pro-Shiite agenda that has alienated the Sunni minority. The United States, the U.N. and a broad array of political factions in Iraq had backed al-Abadi, saying only a new leader could unify a country under siege from Sunni extremists of the Islamic State group that have captured large swathes of Iraqi territory.
Al-Maliki said his decision to throw his support behind al-Abadi reflected a desire to “safeguard the high interests of the country,” adding that he would not be the cause of any bloodshed. “My position is your trust in me, and no position is higher than your trust,” he declared in a televised address.
Al-Maliki’s refusal to give up his position after eight years in power had provoked a political crisis that escalated this week in Baghdad, where armed guards patrolled most major bridges, intersections and roadways.
Robin Williams’ wife: He had Parkinson’s disease, was sober at time of death
LOS ANGELES — Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease at the time of his death, his wife said Thursday.
In a statement, Susan Schneider said that Williams, 63, was struggling with depression, anxiety and the Parkinson’s diagnosis when he died Monday in his Northern California home. Authorities said he committed suicide.
“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly,” Schneider said.
Schneider did not offer details on when the actor comedian had been diagnosed or his symptoms.
The Marin County Sheriff’s Department, which said Williams hanged himself, is conducting toxicology tests and interviews before issuing a final ruling. Lt. Keith Boyd of the Marin County Sheriff’s Department did not return phone calls and email messages from The Associated Press seeking comment on Schneider’s statement.
Candlestick Park set for its final event, a concert by Beatle Paul McCartney
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco was set to say goodbye Thursday to Candlestick Park — the stadium where the city’s beloved Giants and 49ers celebrated some of their greatest triumphs.
The storied venue was expected to shut down after a concert by Beatles icon Paul McCartney. It will then be demolished to make way for a housing, retail and entertainment development.
The Stick as it is known opened more than 50 years ago and served as the home field for the 49ers and Giants. It hosted legends from both teams, including Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Willie Mays, and was the site of The Catch — Montana’s touchdown pass to Dwight Clark to win the NFC championship game in January 1982 and send the 49ers to their first Super Bowl.
The Giants played their last game at Candlestick in September 1999. The 49ers will play at a new stadium about 45 miles south starting this year.
Candlestick was also the site of a 1987 mass by Pope John Paul II and the Beatles last live concert in 1966.
By wire sources