Baghdad protests continue amid calls for new govt

Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr denies reports of Iranian mediation aimed at ending ongoing protests in Baghdad by his supporters

Baghdad protests continue amid calls for new govt

World Bulletin / News Desk

Prominent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has warned that his bloc in parliament would vote to withdraw confidence from Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi if the latter failed to appoint a new government by Thursday, while demonstrations by al-Sadr's supporters  continued outside Baghdad's Green Zone. 

"Parliament has given the prime minister until Thursday [to present a new government] and he must abide by this deadline," al-Sadr said in a message to supporters camped outside Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone. 

"If he [al-Abadi] fails to do so, we will… vote to withdraw confidence from him," he warned. 

Al-Sadr’s "Ahrar" bloc in parliament holds 34 seats in the 328-seat assembly and three ministerial portfolios in Iraq’s current government.

On Monday, parliament gave al-Abadi a three-day deadline to present a new cabinet lineup or face a vote of no-confidence. 

The move came amid large protests by al-Sadr’s supporters aimed at pressuring the prime minister to appoint a government of "technocrats" untainted by corruption or sectarianism -- both of which, critics say, have hamstrung Iraq’s previous post-invasion governments. 

- No Iranian mediation -

Al-Sadr, meanwhile, denied reports of Iranian mediation aimed at ending the protests by his followers. 

"No one has dared to negotiate with me or try to convince me to withdraw [demonstrations by my supporters] from outside the Green Zone," al-Sadr told Al-Itesam daily on Wednesday. 

"There is no Iranian mediation; I don't think the Iranians would get involved," he said. 

Al-Abadi, for his part, says he has presented a reform program aimed at fighting rampant corruption. 

"The program also includes mechanisms for choosing non-party technocrats for top [government] posts," he said. 

The prime minister, however, did not clarify as to whether he would abide by the three-day deadline set by parliament for him to present a new government lineup. 

Last summer, Iraq’s parliament approved a sweeping raft of reforms proposed by al-Abadi. The reforms are aimed at meeting popular demands to eliminate government corruption and streamline state bureaucracy. 

Last Mod: 30 Mart 2016, 15:46
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