x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Sadr supporters call for fresh elections in Iraq

The call for the dissolution of parliament by the Shiite cleric Muqtada Al Sadr political movement is met with mixed reaction.

BAGHDAD // Reaction was mixed to the Shiite cleric Muqtada Al Sadr political movement's call for the dissolution of parliament, with one MP calling it "dishonest" and another saying it offered the "best way out from the political crisis" in the country.

The Sadr movement's parliamentary chief, Baha Al Araji, said on Monday that his bloc in Iraq's Council of Representatives wanted to "dissolve parliament and repeat elections" and that view "represents all of the bloc, and it represents the opinion of the bloc".

The call to dissolve parliament came after authorities issued an arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tareq Al Hashemi on charges he ran a death squad at prime minister Nouri Al Maliki's behest. Mr Al Maliki has also called for his Sunni deputy, Saleh Al Mutlak, to be sacked.

Mr Al Hashemi denies the accusations, and Mr Al Mutlak has called the premier a dictator "worse than Saddam Hussein".

Abbas Al Bayati, an MP from Mr Al Maliki's State of Law Party, said yesterday that "all people who talk about the dissolution of the parliament are dishonest and misled".

"The conditions in the constitution are heavy conditions and cannot be achieved by an early election ... Everyone knows that any new elections will not change the map."

Mr Al Bayati called the political blocs to resolve their problems through dialogue.

But Ahmed Al Masari from the Sunni-backed Iraqiyya list said he supported the push to dissolve parliament.

"Iraq needs today to put his destiny in hands of his people to choose his best representatives in the political process," Mr Al Masari said. "I totally agreed with Mr Al Sadr on calling for elections that will build a united Iraq and strong country."

Shawan Taha from the Kudistanian Alliance said "the Iraqi political blocs must sit in one table and solve their problems and search to best solution to get out from deep crisis that will led to tearing up our country".

Mr Al Sadr has invited all political parties to sign what he called "the charter of the national honour". This charter would "save the country's unity, security and stability after the withdrawal of occupation forces", according to the political body of the Sadrist movement.

Iraqiyya and the Sadrists are both party to Mr Al Maliki's Shiite-led national unity government, with each controlling multiple ministerial posts.

The US has urged dialogue, but Mr Al Hashemi and Mr Al Mutlak's Iraqiyya bloc has boycotted parliament and the cabinet.


* With additional reporting by the Associated Press and Reuters