Sadr calls for early elections following months of bitter deadlock

Last week, hundreds of his followers stormed the Iraqi parliament for the second time in a week and occupied the legislative house. The parliament has suspended its work. 
Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr delivering a televised speech in the central Iraqi city of Najaf, August 3, 2022. (Photo: AFP / HO / Al Iraqiya Tv)
Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr delivering a televised speech in the central Iraqi city of Najaf, August 3, 2022. (Photo: AFP / HO / Al Iraqiya Tv)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called for another early election to end the political deadlock in Iraq nine months after its last parliamentary elections. 

Sadr’s call for a fresh election came during a televised speech he delivered on Wednesday evening, broadcast on a giant TV screen installed in the Iraqi capital Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone, where his staunch supporters are holding a massive sit-in to protest the political impasse. 

Dissolving parliament and holding “democratic and snap elections” will end the corruption and what Sadr called the “old faces” in Iraqi politics. 

He indicated that it is not yet clear whether the Sadrists would participate in that election if the political parties agreed to hold it. 

Iraq last held early parliamentary elections in October 2021 to elect a new government that can be responsive to public demands to tackle electricity shortages amid scorching summer heat, massive unemployment, and insufficient public services. 

However, fundamental disagreements between the Sadrists and Iran-backed parties over the form of the next government led to the months-long deadlock. Sadr ordered his 73 parliamentarians to resign in mid-June in protest over the debacle. 

He said his movement’s struggle is not to gain power as claimed by his opponents. 

Last week, hundreds of his followers stormed the Iraqi parliament for the second time in a week and occupied the legislative house. The parliament has suspended its work. 

Supporters of Sadr’s rivals, the Shiite Coordination Framework, poured onto the streets of Baghdad, staging a counter-protest in response. This led to fears of clashes or even a civil war. 

Sadr also ruled out the possibility of violence due to his maneuvers on Wednesday. 

Hadi Al-Amiri and Haidar al-Abadi, leading politicians in the Framework, welcomed Sadr’s speech. 

The prolonged political deadlock in their country has left ordinary Iraqis with little hope for meaningful change that will alleviate their difficult situation.