Since he took office eight years ago, in the country’s first elections after the U.S.-led invasion, his critics have accused him of centralizing power.
After the last elections, in 2010, Maliki took on the roles of minister of defense, interior and national security — positions he still holds. He also is head of the armed forces.
A law passed by parliament that would have prevented him from running for a third term was overturned last year by the courts. The judicial system is under his influence, rights groups say. Meanwhile, rival parties accuse him of sidelining their candidates.