Baghdad: Nuri Al Maliki, Iraq's rebel-turned-leader who on Monday saw his bid for a third term fall apart, rose from anonymous exile to powerful premier but lost support as the country's security collapsed.
President Fuad Masum tasked Haidar Al Abadi, a member of Maliki's Dawa party, with forming a new government, ignoring the two-term premier's defiant insistence that he should keep the top job.
Maliki, a 63-year-old majority sect Arab, had previously said he would sue Masum, a Kurd, for violating the constitution, and ordered a massive security deployment in Baghdad.
It is a dramatic shift from 2006, when Maliki was regarded as a weak compromise candidate who emerged from the shadows to become premier.
He has since undergone several transformations, from a nationalist who battled militias within his own community and brought violence under control to being accused of amassing power and sidelining partners.
Maliki's past eight years were markedly different from his life before the 2003 US-led invasion.
In 2006, the dour bespectacled politician was named premier after his predecessor Ibrahim Al Jaafari, also a member of the majority sect, was regarded as too sectarian by the minority sect Arabs and Kurds.
Thrust to power at the height of Iraq's brutal sectarian war that killed thousands of people each month, Maliki was seen then as politically weak.
But he stayed in office and pursued an offensive against the militia of powerful majority sect cleric Moqtada Al Sadr with US military backing in 2008.
The successful assault won him plaudits across the communal spectrum, and he staked his reputation as a nationalist leader who had brought Iraq's raging violence under some semblance
Under Maliki, American forces withdrew in late 2011 and oil production has steadily increased.
Since being re-elected premier in 2010 at the head of a national unity government, however, Maliki has faced near-constant political crises.