Firebrand cleric says Iraqi PM should resign

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NAJAF, Iraq (AP) — The firebrand Iraqi cleric heading the political party that has served as a swing vote in the nation's ongoing government crisis says the prime minister should resign if he cannot produce reforms.

Shiite hardliner Muqtada al-Sadr's comments came in a rare and wide-ranging press conference Sunday.

He said he would direct his party's 40 lawmakers to support a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki if assured that the other political blocs in parliament provided the rest of the 163 votes needed.

Iraq's president has predicted the no-confidence push will fall short of mustering enough votes.

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