Maliki, Nuri Kamal al- (nōrˈē kämälˈ äl-mälˈĭkē) [key], 1950–, Iraqi political leader. A Shiite who worked as an education official in Hilla, he was a member and, later, deputy leader of the Dawa party, a Shiite religious party that engaged in armed resistance to Saddam Hussein. Sentenced to death, Maliki fled Iraq (1980) and spent more than two decades in exile. Returning secretly to Iraqi in 2002, he was appointed to the National Council established after the United States invaded and overthrew Hussein, and was involved (2003–4) in the de-Ba'athification of the Iraqi government and civil service. Elected to the transitional National Assembly in 2005, he was involved in writing the new constitution. After the 2005 parliamentary elections, when interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari proved unacceptable to Sunnis and Kurds, Maliki, a close adviser to Jaafari and the spokesman for a coalition of religious Shiite parties, emerged (2006) as a U.S.-supported compromise candidate for prime minister. Regarded as tough-minded, Maliki vowed to integrate the militias into the army, but his ability to tackle Iraq's sectarian violence was hampered by his fractious "unity" government's dependence on the support of Moktada al-Sadr and of Sunni leaders with ties to insurgents. The withdrawal of Sadr's party from the government, the disillusionment of many Iraqi Sunnis with the insurgency, and the establishment (Dec., 2008) of a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraqi subsequently benefited Maliki. Running as a nationalist in the Mar., 2010, parliamentary elections, he headed the State of Law coalition, which placed second, and ultimately led the new government, which was approved in Dec., 2010. The new coalition proved as divided as the first, and Maliki was criticized by many members for monopolizing power.