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August 13, 2014 AT 4:29 AM
Nuri al-Maliki stuck to his guns and refused to accept his removal as Iraq's prime minister on Wednesday, but his hold on power was tenuous as Iran's supreme leader, a long-time Maliki ally, publicly backed his replacement. Taking to state television as acting premier, Maliki said the supreme court must rule on this week's move to ask his Shi'ite Islamist party colleague Haider al-Abadi to form a new government - a change that Iran, the United States and many Iraqis see as vital to halt the advance of Sunni militants.