Followers of Muqtada al-Sadr press for early elections in Iraq

Baghdad, Aug 23 (EFE).- Hundreds of supporters of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr mounted a sit-in Tuesday at the headquarters of Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council to dramatize their demands for early elections to resolve a months-long political deadlock.

The protest, which forced the council and the Iraqi Supreme Court to suspend operations for a few hours, ended after a spokesman for Al-Sadr, Mohamed Saleh al-Iraqi, urged the demonstrators to leave.

“To preserve the reputation of our beloved revolutionaries and to not harm people, I advise a withdrawal,” Al-Iraqi said in a statement that at the same time called on the Sadrists who have been camped outside parliament since July 30 to remain there.

The Sadrists will stay “until the achievement of the demands to dissolve parliament, hold early elections and put corrupt officials on trial,” protester Abdulamir Husein told Efe.

Both parliament and the judiciary complex are located in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

Al-Sadr wants the Supreme Judicial Council to dissolve parliament, but the council insists that it lacks the authority to do so.

Candidates endorsed by Al-Sadr won a plurality in the legislature in last October’s elections, but they abandoned parliament in June after the Coordination Framework, an Iran-aligned Shiite coalition, repeatedly obstructed their attempts to form a government.

The withdrawal of the 74 Sadrist lawmakers opened the door for the Framework to put forward Mohamed Shia al-Sudani as prime minister.

But the popular Al-Sadr, a defender of Iraqi sovereignty who opposes the influence of both Iran and the United States, mobilized his thousands of supporters to invade parliament and halt the installation of Al-Sudani. EFE


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