Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is nearing an “electoral alliance” with influential Shia religious and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr in a bid to isolate former PM and premiership hopeful Nouri al-Maliki, according to a newspaper.
London-based Al Hayat said the anticipated alliance could also draw Iraq’s Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi’s Muttahidon (United) bloc in addition to Kurdish political forces, most notably the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Kurdish President Masud Barzani.
The purpose of all those parties is to “keep Maliki away”, according to Al Hayat.
It added that Sadr’s and Maliki’s movements had been caught up in an intense rivalry, which became most remarkable in Maliki’s push for a draft law restricting the right to stage protests in a bid to curb weekly pro-reform demonstrations Sadr’s fans had staged upon a call from their leader. It noted that the draft was slated for discussion in parliament on Sunday but was adjourned due to pressures from civil society groups.
The newspaper’s speculations regarding a possible alliance came hours after Maliki said in a statement by his office that he was renouncing his call for a Shia majority rule in Iraq. He accused parties, which he did not name, of plotting against the political process by seeking to put off elections.
Iraqi parliament elections are slated for early 2018, and there is a tendency to run municipal elections simultaneously. Shia groups occupy more than a half of the parliament’s 328 seats.
According to the statement, Maliki’s announcement came during a conference on “societal reconciliation” in the southern Iraqi province of Najaf. Explaining his concession, Maliki said “the country rejects sectarianism and racism”.
Maliki’s opponents accuse him of stoking sectarian divisions and failure to curb corruption throughout his two-term, eight-year premiership, besides blaming him for losing Iraqi territories to the Islamic State militants.
Maliki is the leader of Daawa Party, of which PM Abadi is a senior member.