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The Iraqi judiciary rejects Sadr’s call for the dissolution of parliament

#Iraqi #judiciary #rejects #Sadrs #call #dissolution #parliament

Iraq’s judiciary said Sunday it lacked the power to dissolve parliament, as demanded by populist Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr, who is embroiled in an escalating row with political rivals.

Supporters of Sadr have staged a sit-in protest outside Iraq’s parliament, despite his Shia rivals in the pro-Iranian coordination framework.

In the latest turn of political turmoil, the hot-headed cleric has urged the judiciary to dissolve parliament by the end of this week to pave the way for a new general election.

However, the judiciary replied that “the Supreme Judicial Council has no power to dissolve Parliament”, invoking “the principle of the separation of powers”.

According to the constitution, Parliament can only be dissolved by an absolute majority in the House of Representatives, at the request of a third of the MPs or the Prime Minister with the consent of the President.

Almost 10 months after the last elections, Iraq still has no government, new prime minister or new president due to factional disagreements over forming a coalition.

In the recent unrest hitting the oil-rich but war-torn nation, Sadr has called for “early democratic elections after a dissolution of parliament.”

Although he did not advocate dissolving parliament, the Supreme Judicial Council said he agreed with Sadr’s criticism of the “failure to elect a president of the republic, a prime minister and the lack of a government formed within the constitutional timeframe.”

“This is an unacceptable situation that needs to be addressed,” it said.

Opponents of Sadr’s coordination framework launched their own sit-in in Baghdad on Friday, almost two weeks after the cleric’s supporters stormed parliament and started an open-ended protest, first inside, then outside the legislature.

The opposing camps are the latest twist in a standoff that has so far remained peaceful.

On Twitter, a close Sadr aide, Saleh Mohamed al-Iraqi, said it was time to show “which of the two sides has the most support” among the Iraqi people.

He called on Sadr’s supporters across the country to gather in Baghdad for a “million-strong demonstration.”

The demonstration would take place at 17:00 (1400 GMT) on Saturday, he said, claiming it was “unprecedented in terms of numbers”.

Sadr’s camp launched the sit-in two weeks ago after the Coordination Framework nominated a candidate they deemed unacceptable for prime minister.

The clergy bloc emerged from the October elections as the strongest parliamentary group, but still far from a majority.

In June, 73 of its MPs resigned in an aborted attempt to break months of political deadlock.

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