Rival protests amid political stalemate in Iraq

rival-demonstrations on political stalemate in Iraq

Supporters of Moqtada Sadr have occupied the Iraqi parliament since Saturday in protest against an appointment by an opposing political bloc.

Security forces were on high alert Monday in Baghdad after calls for demonstrations by political rivals of powerful leader Moqtada Sadr whose supporters occupy parliament, in a context total political stalemate.

Moqtada Sadr's opponents, supporters of the powerful alliance of pro-Iran Shia factions called the Coordinating Framework, nevertheless stressed that the rally was not directed against any particular group, according to calls relayed on social networks. .

Tension escalated in Iraq after Mr. Sadr rejected the candidate for prime minister presented by the Coordination Framework that includes the Hachd al -Chaabi, ex-paramilitaries integrated into the regular forces, and the formation of ex-Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, historical enemy of the Shiite leader Sadr.

Last Wednesday, supporters of Moqtada Sadr, with a huge popular base, briefly invaded the seat of parliament, but on Saturday they stormed it and have occupied it ever since.

Now it's the turn of their adversaries to mobilize. After messages circulating on social networks announcing a rally on Monday at 5 p.m. (local time), the security forces deployed in Baghdad an important security device and several checkpoints.

The protest is to take place on an avenue leading to the Green Zone, which houses government institutions, Western embassies and the seat of Parliament.

But instructions given to protesters forbid them to #x27;enter the Green Zone. The stated objective is to defend the state and its legitimacy, and the rally is not directed against any particular person or group, the messages say.

An official of Mr. Maliki's party confirmed the calls for demonstrations.

The leaders of the Coordination Framework have meanwhile increased calls dialogue to resolve the crisis.

On the other side, a relative of Mr. Sadr called for rallies at the same time, at 5 p.m., in the provinces of x27;Iraq.

Supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr outside the main gate of Baghdad's Green Zone on July 27.

In parliament in Baghdad, a few thousand Sadrist demonstrators remain mobilized, waving flags and portraits of Moqtada Sadr, noted an AFP correspondent.

Dancing in the main hall, they chant Behold the soldiers of the son of the Sayyed, in allusion to Moqtada Sadr and his title of descendant of the Prophet.

At the entrance, men search the newcomers, while several tents have grown in the gardens.

We want to eliminate the government of the corrupt, we do not want to recycle the same faces, launched Zaher Al- Atabi, a protester.

“From 2003 until now, those who have run the country have done nothing to develop public services, no health system, no education!

— Zaher Al-Atabi, pro-Sadr protester

What does it matter if Moqtada Sadr loyalists also occupy the highest echelons in the ministries, his supporters see him as a figure of opposition and herald of the fight against corruption.

Since the October 2021 legislative elections, political paralysis has been total. Months of negotiations between the major parties have failed to elect a new President of the Republic or a new head of government.

Famous for his volte- face, Mr. Sadr demonstrated that he was still capable of mobilizing crowds to advance his pawns.

An Iraqi security officer stands guard near a sleeping Shiite supporter inside parliament.

He seeks to put pressure on his opponents when he had left the task of forming a government to them, causing his 73 deputies to resign in June. Before their resignation, his elected representatives represented the first bloc in the Parliament of 329 deputies.

On Sunday, Mr. Sadr called on all Iraqis to join the protest, seeing it as an extraordinary opportunity for a fundamental change in the political system.

The Coordinating Framework saw this as a call for a coup against the institutions.

On Monday, challenging the two rival camps, Hadi Al-Ameri, who leads a faction of Hashd, reiterated his call for a constructive dialogue.

He warned against an atmosphere of media escalation, provoked by press releases and counter-press releases calling for mass mobilizations, which can get out of hand and lead to violence.

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