Iraqi al-Sadr may turn his militia into 'cultural group'

Iraq's cleric Moqtada al-Sadr hinted at a possible transformation of his al-Mahdi Army militia into a cultural, humanitarian organization, a media report said Monday.

Iraqi al-Sadr may turn his militia into 'cultural group'
Iraq's cleric Moqtada al-Sadr hinted at a possible transformation of his al-Mahdi Army militia into a cultural, humanitarian organization after a group of his followers proposed a referendum on changing the nature of the militia, a media report said Monday.

The Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency quoted al-Sadr as saying his move to suspend the activities of al-Mahdi Army was an opportunity to rehabilitate and reform the group.

"There is no conflict between the military nature of al-Mahdi Army and its being humanitarian and cultural. Different circumstances need different duties and requirements," al-Sadr said.

The powerful leader suspended the activities of his militia in August, ushering in a ceasefire with US and Iraqi forces for six months, which was extended in February for another six months.

A group of Sadrists put forward a proposal for a referendum on transforming the militia into a political or cultural group, VOI said.

Upon the formation of al-Mahdi Army out of armed groups loyal to his movement in July 2003, al-Sadr described the militia as "a peaceful force and a social movement".

The Sadrists have a large bloc of legislators with 30 seats in parliament.

Agencies
Last Mod: 11 Mart 2008, 12:38
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