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Pro-Sadr protesters occupy Iraq’s parliament again

#ProSadr #protesters #occupy #Iraqs #parliament

Supporters of powerful Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr invaded Baghdad’s heavily fortified “Green Zone” on Saturday and occupied parliament amid a deepening political crisis.

It is the second time in days that Sadr supporters have invaded the legislative chamber, months after elections failed to form a government.

Demonstrators waved Iraqi flags and pictures of the cleric in the legislature, an AFP photographer said.

They entered after thousands of protesters gathered at the end of a bridge leading to the Green Zone, before dozens tore down concrete barriers protecting them and ran inside, the photographer reported.

Security forces fired tear gas near an entrance to the district, which houses foreign embassies and other government buildings, as well as the parliament.

Some demonstrators on the bridge were injured and carried away by their fellow demonstrators.

“All people are with you Sayyed Moqtada,” the protesters chanted, using his title as a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed.

Sadr’s bloc emerged as the largest parliamentary faction in October’s elections, but was still far from a majority, and ten months later the formation of a new government is still deadlocked.

Supporters of the populist Shia cleric oppose the recently announced candidacy of Mohammed al-Sudani, a former minister and ex-provincial governor selected by the pro-Iranian Coordination Framework for the post of prime minister.

The protests are the latest challenge for oil-rich Iraq, which is mired in a political and socio-economic crisis despite rising global crude oil prices.

Saturday’s demonstration comes three days after crowds of Sadr supporters broke through the Green Zone despite volleys of police tear gas fire.

They occupied the parliament building, singing, dancing and taking selfies before leaving two hours later, but only after Sadr told them to leave.

– “Revolution” –

On Saturday, security forces blocked roads in the capital leading to the Green Zone with massive concrete blocks.

“We are here for a revolution,” said protester Haydar al-Lami.

“We don’t want the corrupt; we do not want those who were in power to return… since 2003 they have only harmed us.”

By convention, the post of prime minister goes to a leader of Iraq’s Shia majority.

Sadr, a former militia leader, initially supported the idea of ​​a majority government.

That would have sent his Shia opponents from the pro-Iran Coordination Framework into opposition.

The coordination framework is attracting lawmakers from former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s party and the pro-Iranian Fatah Alliance, the political arm of the Shia-led former paramilitary group Hashed al-Shaabi.

But last month, Sadr’s 73 MPs resigned to pressure his rivals to speed up the formation of a government.

Later in June, 64 new lawmakers were sworn in, making the pro-Iran bloc the largest in parliament.

That sparked anger from Sadr’s supporters, who also raided the Baghdad offices of Maliki’s Daawa party on Friday night, as well as that of Ammar al-Hakim’s Hikma movement, which is part of the coordination framework, according to a security source.

“We wish they would wait until the government is formed to assess their performance, give it a chance and challenge it when they don’t,” Hakim said in a recent interview with BBC Arabic.

“The Sadrist movement has a problem with the idea that the coordination framework will form a government,” he said.

“If it turns out that it is not a Sudanese and a second or third candidate is nominated, they would still object,” he said.

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#ProSadr #protesters #occupy #Iraqs #parliament

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