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Lawmakers loyal to Iraq’s Sadr resign en masse to break political deadlock

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iraqi lawmakers attend the first session of the new Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Iraq, on January 9, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Lawmakers loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr have resigned from parliament in order to break a political deadlock as the country has failed to form a new government nearly eight months after parliamentary elections.

According to a report published by the official Iraqi News Agency, members of the movement handed in their resignations in al-Hannana, the headquarters of the political party in the holy shrine city of Najaf.

Earlier, Sadr had called on all lawmakers loyal to him to “write their resignation,” warning that “they won’t disobey me.”

“The country’s reform will only take place with a national majority government,” he said in a televised statement on Thursday, adding, “If the survival of the Sadr bloc is an obstacle to the formation of the government, then all representatives of the bloc are ready to resign from parliament.” 

“Iraq needs a government backed by a majority that serves the people,” the prominent cleric said.

The Sadr movement has formed an alliance with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Masoud Barzani, and other parties to form a coalition. the movement has, however, failed to find common ground with its rival, the Coordination Framework.

Iraqi parliamentary elections were held on October 10 last year, the fifth in Iraq since the US-led invasion of the Arab country in 2003.

They were originally planned to be held in 2022, but the date was brought forward in the wake of a mass protest movement that broke out in 2019 to call for economic reforms, better public services, and an effective fight against unemployment and corruption in state institutions.

The Fatah (Conquest) Alliance – the political arm of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) resistance coalition – managed to secure 17 seats, compared to the 48 it held in the outgoing parliament.

Former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law Alliance won 33 seats, while al-Sadr’s Sairoon coalition, Fatah’s biggest rival, won 73 seats, compared to its previous 54 seats, making his party the first bloc in parliament, and thus giving him considerable influence in forming a government.

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