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No second term for Iraqi president

Jalal Talabani's mandate expires at the end of this year. His party says he will remain its leader.

March 15, 2009|Reuters

BAGHDAD — Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is not likely to seek another term when his mandate expires at the end of this year, a senior official of his party said Saturday.

But Talabani, 75, who underwent heart surgery last year in the United States, will remain head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, said Fuad Masoum, head of the Kurdish alliance and a member of parliament.

"It doesn't mean he will give up his political life. It just means he will not go for the presidential post," Masoum said. "He wants to take a rest."

Talabani, a Kurd, has been president since 2005. Although he does not wield executive power, his role is seen as crucial to maintaining the country's ethnic and sectarian balance. His vice presidents are a Shiite and a Sunni Arab.

Their mandates expire at the end of December, when Iraq is to hold parliamentary elections that could alter the power balance in Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's coalition government. Parliament elects the three-member Presidency Council.

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