Wed Jan 3, 11:03 AM ET
NEW YORK - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a published report that he wishes he could leave office before his four-year term is up and would not run again.
"I didn't want to take this position," al-Maliki told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Tuesday. "I only agreed because I thought it would serve the national interest, and I will not accept it again."
Al-Maliki became prime minister in May 2006, and his time in office has been defined by a surge in sectarian violence and lack of progress in improving services, curbing soaring unemployment and fighting crime.
A confidential White House memo leaked in November questioned his ability to deal with the violence, and the
Iraq Study Group report, prepared by a bipartisan commission, recommended that Washington should reduce military and political support to his government if it fails to make progress in curbing the violence.
Al-Maliki said it was "impossible" that he would serve a second term.
"I wish I could be done with it even before the end of this term," he said in the interview, which was conducted Dec. 24. "I would like to serve my people from outside the circle of senior officials, maybe through the parliament, or through working directly with the people."
Al-Maliki heads a national unity government that includes Shiites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds. He said disharmony within the coalition has made his tenure difficult, adding that after decades of rule by Sunnis, they have not accepted the Shiite majority role.
"They don't want to accept this fact," al-Maliki said. "Iraq isn't governed only by the Shiites, power is shared. This is the result of democracy. They are our brothers and partners and we value their partnership."