News ID: 323210
Published: 0257 GMT July 30, 2022

Sadr’s supporters storm Iraq’s parliament for second time in a week

Sadr’s supporters storm Iraq’s parliament for second time in a week

Supporters of Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr pull down a concrete barrier during a protest against corruption, in Baghdad, Iraq, on July 30, 2022.

Supporters of Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr penetrated Baghdad's heavily fortified "Green Zone" and occupied parliament on Saturday in a deepening political crisis.

It is the second time in days that Sadr supporters have forced their way in to the legislative chamber, months after elections that failed to lead to formation of a government, AFP reported.

Demonstrators waved Iraqi flags and pictures of the cleric inside the legislature, an AFP photographer said.

They entered after thousands of protesters had massed at the end of a bridge leading to the Green Zone before dozens tore down concrete barriers protecting it and ran inside, the photographer reported.

Security forces had fired tear gas near an entrance to the district, home to foreign embassies and other government buildings as well as parliament.

Some protesters on the bridge were injured and carried off by their fellow demonstrators.

Sadr's bloc emerged from elections in October as the biggest parliamentary faction, but was still far short of a majority and, 10 months on, deadlock persists over the establishment of a new government.

Supporters of the cleric oppose the recently announced candidacy of Mohammed al-Sudani, a former minister and ex-provincial governor, who is the Coordination Framework's pick for premier.

The protests are the latest challenge for oil-rich Iraq, which remains mired in a political and a socio-economic crisis despite elevated global crude prices.

Saturday's demonstration comes three days after crowds of Sadr supporters breached the Green Zone despite volleys of tear gas fire from the police.

They occupied the parliament building, singing, dancing and taking selfies before leaving two hours later but only after Sadr told them to leave.

On Saturday, security forces shut off roads in the capital leading to the Green Zone with massive blocks of concrete.

"We are here for a revolution," said protester Haydar al-Lami.

"We don't want the corrupt; we don't want those who have been in power to return... since 2003, they have only brought us harm."

By convention, the post of prime minister goes to a leader from Iraq's Shia majority.

Sadr had initially supported the idea of a majority government.

That would have sent his adversaries from the Coordination Framework into opposition.

The Coordination Framework draws lawmakers from former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki's party and the Fatah Alliance.

But last month Sadr's 73 lawmakers quit in a move seen as seeking to pressure his rivals to fast-track the establishment of a government.

Sixty-four new lawmakers were sworn in later in June, making the bloc the largest in parliament.

That triggered the fury of Sadr's supporters, who according to a security source also ransacked the Baghdad office of Maliki's Daawa party on Friday night, as well as that of the Hikma movement of Ammar al-Hakim which is a part of the Coordination Framework.





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