“There is a huge security presence, police and army, especially around the Green Zone,” the highly-protected district that houses Iraq’s key institutions, a high-ranking police officer has confirmed to AFP.
He said the deployment started at around 10:30 pm Iraq time, just 90 minutes before Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced on state television he would file a complaint against the president for violating the constitution.
“There is security everywhere in Baghdad, these are very unusual measures that look like those we impose for a state of emergency,” the police official said.
“Several streets have been closed... as well as some key bridges,” said an official at the interior ministry. “It’s all linked to the political situation.”
Al-Maliki made a suprise declaration early this morning on state television, accusing ethnic Kurdish President Fuad Masum of violating the constitution.
“Today I will file a formal complaint to the federal court against President Masum,” he said, in the midnight address.
Al-Maliki’s statement has plunged the government into a political crisis at a time it is battling advances by Islamic State militants.
Al-Maliki, whose coalition won the most seats in April elections, is accusing the new president Fouad Massoum of neglecting to name a prime minister from the country’s largest parliamentary bloc by Sunday’s deadline. He says the president has violated the constitution “for the sake of political goals.”
Al-Maliki, speaking for the first time since American forces launched airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops in Iraq last week, says the security situation will only worsen, and “bad consequences” will result from Massoum’s actions.
The United States has clearly thrown its support behind President Masum and urged al-Maliki to resign.