Iraqi women wave the national flag and carry posters of senior cleric Muqtada al-Sadr during a demonstration at Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on April 17, 2016. © AFP
Prominent Iraqi cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, has called for renewed demonstrations aimed at pressing politicians to vote on a new government proposed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to tackle corruption.
In a handwritten statement issued on Wednesday, Sadr said “peaceful protests” should continue “under the same intensity and even more in order to pressure the politicians and the lovers of corruption.”
“Nobody has the right to stop it otherwise the revolution will take another turn,” he added.
Last month, Sadr called on Abadi to move ahead with his plan to replace the cabinet of party-affiliated ministers with a government of technocrats in an attempt to combat systemic political patronage that has abetted graft in the Arab country.
On March 18, Sadr’s followers began a sit-in at entrances to the Green Zone, which houses the legislature, the prime minister’s office and various foreign embassies. On March 27, the clergyman also joined the protest action.
Supporters of prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr shout slogans during a protest near the gates of Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone on March 31, 2016. © Reuters
The Iraqi parliament gave Abadi a three-day deadline, which started on March 28, to present a new list of ministers or face a vote of no-confidence.
Abadi met the deadline, resulting in Sadr’s supporters to end their sit-in.
However, the Iraqi legislature has so far delayed voting on the cabinet reshuffle amid stiff resistance from some parties seeking to maintain their influence in the administration.
Meanwhile, some Iraqi lawmakers held a sit-in at the parliament building, but Sadr called for an end to the protest action by the MPs.
The cleric also called on the parliament to vote on the new cabinet line-up, demanding lawmakers representing him not to take part in any session other than the one to be convened for that purpose.
He further asked the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to help find a solution to the ongoing political crisis in Iraq
“even through holding early elections.”
The latest developments on Iraq’s political scene come at a time that the Iraqi army troops and allied volunteer forces are conducting large-scale military operations against Daesh Takfiri terrorists controlling swathes of land in the northern and western parts of the country since 2014.