Moqtada Al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric in Iraq, called for the regular Friday prayers to be held in the Green Zone, where his supporters have been occupying the parliament for seven days, as part of a new power move.
A similar summons from Al-Sadr in the middle of July, amid tensions between his political bloc and a rival Shiite faction that is supported by Iran, attracted hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshipers to Sadr City, a neighborhood in Baghdad named for his murdered father.
Despite the fact that the most recent national elections were held less than 10 months ago, Al-Sadr, a longtime political and religious powerhouse in the war-torn nation, has recently called for mass prayers in support of his demand for early elections.
Al-bloc, Sadr’s which is the largest in parliament, and other factions engaged in months of post-election negotiations, but they were unable to come to an agreement on a new government, prime minister, or president.
Al-coalition Sadr’s was the largest parliamentary faction after the October elections, but it was still a long way from a majority.
In an effort to end the impasse, 73 of his legislators resigned in June. As a result, the pro-Iran Coordination Framework, a rival Shiite bloc, grew to be the largest in parliament.
The Sadrists became enraged and took over the legislature after Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani, a former cabinet minister, was named prime minister by the Coordination Framework.
Al-Sadr asked for new elections on Wednesday, and his opponents in the Coordination Framework said they were conditionally open to the proposal on Thursday night.
In a brief statement, the Coordination Framework said it “affirms its support to any constitutional way to resolve the political crises and realize the interests of the people, including early elections.”
But “a national consensus on the question and providing a safe environment” were pre-requisites for such polls, it said.
Above important, it emphasized the significance of “not disrupting the functioning” of constitutional institutions, making explicit reference to Al-supporters’ Sadr’s occupation of the parliament.
Al-old Sadr’s adversary, Nuri Al-Maliki, and the Hashed Al-Shaabi, a pro-Iran ex-paramilitary network that is now a component of the security forces, are represented in the Coordination Framework.
Iraq is attempting to end its long civil conflict, but it is hampered by widespread corruption, deteriorating infrastructure, and unemployment.