However, the veteran Iraqi leader would not leave after deploying special forces and militias on the streets, which created a political showdown in the country’s capital of Baghdad that could turn dangerous.
Washington, which was instrumental in putting Maliki into power following its invasion in 2003 that toppled longtime ruler Saddam Hussein, sent congratulations to Haider al-Abadi, a former lieutenant under Maliki who was named to replace him by Fouad Masoum the Iraqi president.
Maliki on national television said the decision by the president to replacement him was a constitutional violation and flanked by his allies in politics, vowed to fix the mistake.
Hussein al-Maliki, the son-in-law of the now ex-prime Minister, called the president’s move illegal and said a court would overturn it. He vowed he and other Maliki supporters would not remain silent.
Washington sent a stern warning to the former prime minister not to stir any waters by using force to hang onto power.
Maliki, who is a Shi’ite Muslim, is blamed by erstwhile allies in Tehran and Washington for driving the Sunni minority into a revolt, which has threatened to destroy the entire country.
Leaders of the Kurdish and Sunni communities in Iraq have demanded Maliki be replaced and many of his fellow Shi’ites are turning against him.
The White House said the naming of the new prime minister was a big stride by Iraq towards fighting back against the militants from the Islamic State, who have taken control of large areas of land in northern Iraq.
Obama said that he and Abadi had spoken and that he had congratulated him and urged him to form a cabinet quickly that is a broad representation of the different religious and ethnic communities that make up Iraq.
Maliki dismissed the nomination of Adadi angrily as illegal on Monday. However, no further sign of his opposition remained on Tuesday.
The U.S. does not want it to appear they are imposing a new rule in Iraq, a full three years after leaving the country.