Iraq president to retire next year
Baghdad, March 14, 2009
Iraq's president Jalal Talabani is likely to retire from office rather than seek another term when his mandate expires at the end of this year, a senior official from his party said on Saturday.
But Talabani, who underwent heart surgery in the United States in August last year, will remain head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, a senior parliamentarian from the Kurdish alliance, Fouad Masoum, said.
'It doesn't mean he will give up his political life. It just means he will not go for the presidential post,' he told Reuters. 'He wants to take a rest.'
A Kurd, Talabani has been president since 2005. Although he does not wield executive power in Iraq, his role is seen as critical in maintaining the country's delicate ethnic balance.
His two vice presidents are a Shi'ite and a Sunni Arab. Their mandates expire at the end of December, when Iraq holds parliamentary polls that could radically alter the power balance in Prime minister Nuri al-Maliki's coalition government.-Reuters