Iraq’s influential Shiite cleric says he’s withdrawing from politics

Baghdad, Aug 29 (EFE).- Influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced on Monday that he was quitting Iraqi politics amid a months-long political stalemate.

“I had decided not to intervene in political affairs, but now I announce final retirement and the shutdown of all institutions,” the populist cleric said in a statement posted to his Twitter account.

Shortly after the announcement, al-Sadr’s loyalists stormed the presidential palace in Bagdad despite a full curfew imposed by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command in the capital starting at 3:30 pm (12:30 GMT) on Monday.

At least two people were killed in Monday’s protests, a security official told Efe on the condition of anonymity.

Al-Sadr’s bloc secured 73 seats in the 329-strong parliament in the parliamentary elections held in October last year, however, it did not have the majority needed to form a government.

In June, al-Sadr ordered his 73 lawmakers to quit after several failed voting attempts to form a new government.

He has been calling for the dissolution of the parliament and early elections as his loyalists held a long sit-in at the parliament building in Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone, which houses government institutions and foreign missions.

The leader enjoys strong support from the majority of the Shiite population in Iraq and was one of the main figures in the fight against the 2003 US invasion.EFE


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