Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr
Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) – Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is planning to order his supporters to take to the streets and join the angry protesters in their mass demonstrations against unemployment, corruption and poor services in Iraq, a Lebanese newspaper reported Sunday.
According to Lebanon’s Al Akhbar newspaper, there is a big possibility that “the Sadrists would join the protesters, particularly after Sadr called on the winning parties in the elections held last May to suspend talks over the new government formation until the protesters’ demands are met.”
“The winning political parties in the election have to suspend all political dialogues for forming coalitions and until they meet protesters’ rightful demands,” Sadr wrote on Tweeter Friday in his first public comments on unrest which has swept the south.
Mass demonstrations against unemployment, corruption and poor services spread further across southern Iraqi provinces almost two weeks ago.The demonstrations started in Basra province, but they later extended to other cities, including Amara, Nasiriya, Karbala and the Shiite holy city of Najaf. There were also protests in parts of the capital, Baghdad.
The protests prompted Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to rush from a NATO summit in Brussels to Basra to meet with local officials and tribal leaders in a bid to restore calm.
Al-Sadr’s Sairoon coalition won 54 parliamentary seats in the May 12 parliamentary polls, followed by an al-Hashd al-Shaabi-linked coalition (47 seats) and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s Victory bloc (42 seats), according to the election commission.
Al-Sadr’s coalition did not win the majority needed to form a government alone but will play a primary role in selecting the next prime minister.