News ID: 105617
Publish Date : 12 August 2022 - 21:17

BAGHDAD (AP) – Thousands of followers of Moqtada al-Sadr held a mass prayer outside parliament in Baghdad on Friday in a show of support for the Shia cleric who has called for Iraq’s judiciary to dissolve parliament by the end of next week.
Supporters of the populist leader have occupied the Iraqi parliament since July after a 10-month political stalemate that followed elections last October. Sadr was the biggest winner but failed to form a government free of other parties.
He withdrew his lawmakers from parliament and is now preventing the chamber from electing a new government and is demanding early elections.
On Wednesday he said the judiciary must dissolve parliament by the end of next week. If not “the revolutionaries will take another stand,” he said without elaborating.
Outside parliament on Friday thousands of Sadr supporters gathered for prayer. Most were dressed in black to mark the Muslim month of Muharram and some wore white capes symbolizing burial shrouds and their willingness to die.
In the intense summer heat, men picked their way through the worshippers and sprayed them with cold water.
Sadr’s opponents accuse him of corruption. They say his loyalists have run some of Iraq’s most corrupt and dysfunctional government departments.
Political groups were expected to hold their own demonstration later on Friday, the latest in a series of protest and counter-protest in recent days which have led to fears of unrest.
Sadr counts millions of Iraqis among his followers.
His father Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr was killed more than 20 years ago for his outspoken opposition to Saddam Hussein. When Saddam was topped in a U.S.-led invasion in 2003 Sadr began an insurgency against U.S. troops.
His new rivals, however, are fellow Shias leaders and parties.

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