Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has deployed special forces troops loyal to his regime in strategic areas of Baghdad, after stating he intends to run for a third term in office, while castigating newly-elected president Fuad Masoum for not supporting him.
In a televised address, al-Maliki, who has come under increasing pressure to stand down, said he planned to take President Fuad Masoum to court accusing him of "violating the constitution for political reasons and supporting one political faction at the expense of another and the interests of the Iraqi people".
"I will submit today an official complaint to the federal court against the president of the Republic for committing a clear constitutional violation for the sake of political calculations," he said.
"The president's actions are a coup over the constitution and political process in a country that has a democratic, federal and pluralist system," he added.
Maliki has been serving as a caretaker leader following the indecisive elections in April this year. Parliament has not agreed to give him a third term and support for him is flagging; he is blamed for polarising the country and causing sectarian divisions which have contributed to the current insurgency crisis.
Iraqi anti-terrorism forces, military, Shiite militia and police were deployed en masse across strategic locations in Baghdad force just prior to the PM's address.
The US has made clear its support for President Masoum. US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement: "The United States fully supports President Fuad Masum in his role as guarantor of the Iraqi Constitution."
She added: "We reaffirm our support for a process to select a prime minister who can represent the aspirations of the Iraqi people by building a national consensus and governing in an inclusive manner."
Meanwhile, a new prime minister is reportedly ready to be installed in Baghdad: SLC bloc, the biggest Shiite-led coalition, is on the verge of finalising the name of the next Iraqi premier, said deputy speaker of parliament Haider al-Abadi.