Political Crisis in Iraq: Supporters of Shi’ite Leader Occupy Parliament | World

Thousands of supporters of the influential Shiite political leader Moqtada al-Sadr invaded the Iraqi parliament on Saturday (30), which they intend to occupy until further notice, after another day of demonstrations in a country in the midst of political crisis. This is the second invasion of Parliament this week.

Flaunting Iraqi flags or religious symbols, as well as portraits of Moqtada al-Sadr, thousands of protesters filled the parliament entrance hall before storming the hall where the sessions are held. Giving victory signs, they took selfies “in a relaxed atmosphere”, AFP journalists reported at the scene.

Protesters invade one of the Iraqi government headquarters as a form of protest – Photo: Thaier Al-Sudani/REUTERS

The political impasse is total in Iraq, which awaits the appointment of a new president and a prime minister, ten months after the legislative elections in October 2021. Of great popular influence and on the political scene, Moqtada al-Sadr launched a campaign of great pressure against his opponents, rejecting the opposition candidate for the post of head of government.

On Wednesday (27), protesters briefly occupied Parliament, but this Saturday they announced “a protest [que irá durar] until further notice,” according to a brief statement from the Sadrist Current movement.

Protesters invade one of the Iraqi government headquarters as a form of protest – Photo: Ahmed Saad/REUTERS

Lying on the carpets in the corridors, leaning against the pillars, some protesters were spending time on their cell phones. Others fanned themselves with pieces of cardboard boxes or took off their shirts, due to 46°C in the Iraqi capital on Saturday.

“A corrupt and incapable government”

This morning, thousands of protesters gathered in front of a bridge in Baghdad and climbed the concrete blocks that had been erected to block access, managing to enter the green zone despite security forces firing tear gas and using jets of fire. ‘water to contain the crowd.

Protesters reject the candidacy for prime minister of Mohamed Chia al-Soudani, considered close to former head of government Nouri al-Maliki, Sadr’s historic enemy.

Protesters invade one of the Iraqi government headquarters as a form of protest – Photo: Saba Kareem/REUTERS

In the gardens of Parliament, Sattar al-Aliawi, 47, said he was speaking out against “a corrupt and incapable government” that he believed would be made up of Sadr’s opponents. “We don’t want Soudani,” insists the worker. “The people totally reject the parties that have ruled the country for 18 years,” he says. “We will have a concentration in Parliament, we will sleep here”.

Former minister and former provincial governor Soudani, 52, is a candidate for the “Coordination Framework”, an alliance of pro-Iran Shiite factions, which brings together the formation of former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and representatives of Hachd al-Chaabi, former paramilitaries integrated into the regular forces.

“Defending the State and its Legitimacy”

Protesters invade one of the Iraqi government headquarters as a form of protest – Photo: Thaier Al-Sudani/REUTERS

If today he decides to keep the pressure on his opponents, before Sadr had left them the task of forming a government. In June, 73 deputies from his group, who were the biggest force in Parliament, resigned.

In a statement on Saturday, the Coordination Board criticized the “attacks on constitutional institutions” after the invasions of Parliament. The coalition, in turn, called on “the popular masses … to demonstrate peacefully to defend the state and its legitimacy.”

“Continuing the political escalation increases tensions in the streets,” lamented current Prime Minister Moustafa al-Kazimi in a statement. At least 100 protesters and 25 members of the security forces were injured on Saturday during the demonstrations, the Health Ministry said.

“We are here for revolutionary reform … to make the people and Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader victorious,” protester Haydar al-Lami declared Saturday in central Baghdad. “We don’t want the corrupt and we don’t want to try again with the ones we’ve already seen” in power, he added. “They don’t bring us anything, since 2003 until now they are the same, they bring us losses.”

During the night from Friday (29) to Saturday, Sadr’s supporters looted the offices of Maliki’s Daawa party in Baghdad, as well as the premises of the Hikma Current, the party of politician Ammar al-Hakim, which is part of the of Coordination, according to information from a security source.

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