AFP, published on Friday, August 05, 2022 at 3:26 pm.
Tens of thousands of Moqtada Sadr’s supporters held traditional Friday prayers in Baghdad’s ultra-secure Green Zone, a new show of strength from the influential politician heading for early legislative elections. from his opponents, under certain conditions.
After the prayer, several hundred demonstrators returned outside the Parliament, which they have occupied since July 30 in the Green Zone, the luxury cordoned-off district in the center of the capital that houses state institutions and embassies. They found the building empty and the doors closed, but the protesters, who were placed in tents, continued their camp in the gardens of the institution, as requested by the Sadrist movement.
The sit-in was started to protest a candidacy for prime minister put forward by the opponents of Mr. Sadr, the powerful pro-Iran Shia factions in the Coordination Framework.
Taking advantage of his ability to mobilize crowds, Moqtada Sadr called for the dissolution of parliament and early legislative elections, less than a year after the poll he won.
The Coordination Framework says it is open to early elections, calling for the end of the Parliament’s session.
On Friday, three weeks after a previous prayer in Baghdad attracted hundreds of thousands of people, large crowds of Sadr supporters flocked to a wide esplanade in the Green Zone for the traditional Muslim noon prayer.
Shielding themselves from the sun with umbrellas in the 46-degree heat in the shade and waving Iraqi flags and portraits of Sadr, the men — and some women — sat on their prayer mats. .
“Yes, yes to reforms”, “no, no to corruption”, chanted the faithful.
– “Prisoner of the corrupt” –
“We support the demands (…) of Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr: the dissolution of Parliament and the holding of early elections”, launched the imam in prayer, placed on a platform.
“Iraq is a prisoner of the corrupt,” he accused, rejecting in his sermon “the glaring deterioration of public services, health and education”.
It does not matter if Moqtada Sadr’s loyalty also occupies the highest level of ministries, his supporters see him as an opposition figure and a herald of the fight against corruption.
“If he wants to use people for a cause, he calls for a blessed prayer on Friday and unites the ranks of Muslims,” said Sadr’s supporter Sheikh Ali al close of the sword sculptures on the esplanade. -Atabi, 38 years old.
“This is a thorn (in the side) of the enemy, to demand elections and reforms,” said another, Qassem Abou Moustafa, a 40-year-old civil servant.
Ten months after the legislative elections, Iraq is still waiting for the appointment of a new Prime Minister and a President of the Republic, against a backdrop of political fights.
The October 2021 ballot was won by the Sadrist Current, representing the largest group with 73 representatives in a fragmented parliament where no camp was able to establish a clear majority of the 329 elected.
Having failed to gather a majority to appoint a prime minister, Mr. Sadr had his deputies resign in June, handing over the task of forming a government to his opponents.
– “Mass will” –
The dissolution of Parliament must be recorded by an absolute majority vote and may be requested by one third of the representatives, or by the Prime Minister with the agreement of the President of the Republic.
The opponents of Mr. Sadr, who has a rocky relationship with Shiite Iran, responded to him on Thursday evening.
“The Coordination Framework confirms its support for any constitutional means to resolve political crises and act in the interest of the people, including early elections,” said a statement from this alliance.
This alliance includes in particular the former paramilitaries of the Hachd al-Chaabi, which is integrated with the regular forces, as well as the party of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halboussi tweeted his support for early elections, saying “it is impossible to ignore the will of the masses”.