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.
Last Mod: 11 Mart 2008, 12:38