Iraqi president in favor of elections after deadly fighting

Iraqi President in favor of elections after deadly fighting

Supporters of Shia leader Moqtada Sadr withdraw from the streets after violent clashes near the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Iraqi President Barham Saleh has pronounced on Tuesday in favor of early legislative elections after the withdrawal of supporters of Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr from the green zone in Baghdad, the scene of fighting that left 30 dead in 24 hours.

Rich in oil, the country has been shaken by a serious socio-economic crisis coupled with a political deadlock since the legislative elections of October 2021.

The holding of new early elections [ …] with a national consensus represents a way out of the crisis, Saleh said in a televised speech. Such a vote would guarantee political and social stability and meet the aspirations of Iraqis, he added.

The holding of legislative news, demanded by Moqtada Sadr, requires the dissolution of Parliament, which can be requested by a third of the elected officials or by the Prime Minister with the agreement of the President of the Republic. This dissolution must then be approved by an absolute majority of the assembly.

Barham Saleh's speech came hours after the end of deadly clashes in Baghdad between supporters of Moqtada Sadr, on the one hand, and security forces and supporters of the Coordination framework, rival alliance of Moqtada Sadr which brings together pro-Iran groups, including that of Hachd al-Chaabi, on the other.

Members of the Peace Brigades, the armed faction under Mr. Sadr's orders, left Baghdad's Green Zone .

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi said investigations have been opened into the clashes and threatened to resign if the political paralysis continues. If they want to continue to sow chaos, conflict, discord and rivalry […] I will take the moral and patriotic measure that is necessary and leave my post at the appropriate time, he said. he stated in a speech.

On Monday, immediately after the announcement by the influential Moqtada Sadr of his withdrawal from political life, of which he is nevertheless a key player, thousands of his supporters had invaded the seat of government in the green zone, an ultra-protected sector. of the capital which also hosts the American embassy, ​​which had led to fighting.

If all members of the Sadrist current do not withdraw within 60 minutes from everywhere [in Baghdad], even from the rally [in front of the parliament], I will disavow them, Moqtada Sadr launched Tuesday during a press conference in his stronghold of Najaf (center).

Denouncing acts marred by violence, he apologized to the Iraqi people.

After his call, his supporters left the green zone and the guns fell silent. The fighters gave way to municipal employees who cleaned up the traces of clashes.

The fighting between the Peace Brigades, an armed faction under the orders of Moqtada Sadr, on the one hand, and the forces of order and the Hachd al-Chaabi, on the other hand. former paramilitaries integrated into the regular forces, had resumed Tuesday morning after a relatively calm night.

According to a latest report provided by a medical source, at least 30 supporters of Moqtada Sadr have been shot dead since Monday and 570 people injured in the green zone.

A counter-protest in Baghdad against Sadr loyalists occupying parliament.

The Coordination Framework, which had condemned an attack on state institutions, called on parliament and other institutions to resume their activities.

The US Embassy hailed the end of the fighting and urged all Iraqis to let government institutions continue their work.

Iraq has been embroiled in political stalemate since the October 2021 parliamentary elections won by Moqtada Sadr as the political barons were unable to agree on the name of a new prime minister. And the country therefore has no new government or new president since the election.

To get out of the crisis, Moqtada Sadr and the Coordination Framework agree on one point: new elections are needed. But while Moqtada Sadr insists on dissolving parliament first, his rivals want a government formed first.

The very influential Shiite cleric, used to blows, announced his withdrawal at a time when Iraq has been mired in a deep political crisis since the legislative elections of October 2021.

Arriving first in the legislative elections with 73 seats (out of 329) but unable to form a majority, Mr. Sadr had his deputies resign in June, claiming to want to reform the system and end corruption. He knows he can count on the support of a large section of the Shiite community, the majority in Iraq.

His supporters camped for a month near the parliament in the green zone. On Tuesday, as soon as their leader called to stand down, the sadrists dismantled the tents they had set up before leaving the scene.

By choosing to send them into the green zone and then take them out, Moqtada Sadr shows […] the breadth of his base, especially to his opponents , says Renad Mansour, of the Chatham House think tank.

The strategy of violence and destabilization is part of Sadr's negotiation tactic, he judges.

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