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UN calls on Iraqi factions to find 'urgent solutions' to protracted political crisis

Supporters of Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, protesting against a rival bloc's nomination for prime minister, gather at the constitutional hall as they continue their sit-in inside Iraq's parliament in the capital Baghdad's high-security Green Zone, on August 2, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations has called on different political factions in Iraq to set aside their differences and look for "urgent solutions" to the Arab country’s protracted political crisis. 

"We appeal to all actors to commit, actively engage, and agree on solutions without delay," the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a statement on Wednesday. "Leaders must prioritize [the] national interest," it added.

Iraq has been grappling with a political crisis in the absence of a functional government since October when the country held its last legislative elections.

Influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s political bloc emerged as the biggest parliamentary faction in the election but fell short of an absolute majority needed to form a government, causing the country’s longest post-election deadlock.

In June, all 73 legislators of the bloc quit their seats in a move seen as an attempt to pressure political rivals into expediting the formation of a government.

"Meaningful dialogue among all Iraqi parties is now more urgent than ever, as recent events have demonstrated the rapid risk of escalation in this tense political climate," the UN mission warned in the statement.

It said no party or group can claim that the crisis "does not involve them or affect them" while stressing the need to find "solutions through an all-inclusive dialogue". Without the dialogue, it warned that "competing interests" would lead to "further instability".

"Within this context, UNAMI welcomes recent calls for national dialogue and commends the expressions of support from across the political spectrum. We appeal to all actors to commit, actively engage, and agree on solutions without delay," read the statement.

The UN mission further said that Iraq is facing an "extensive list of outstanding domestic issues", referring to the "desperate need for economic reform, effective public service delivery as well as a federal budget".

"Hence, it is past time for political stakeholders to assume their responsibilities and act in the national interest," it stated.

On Saturday, Sadr’s supporters forced their way into the parliament and suspended a session to nominate a new prime minister. Demonstrators oppose the candidacy of Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for the premier’s post.

The protesters have been occupying the legislative chamber since Saturday.

The outgoing premier Mustafa al-Kadhemi has called for a "national dialogue" in a bid to bring all sides together to talk, and on Wednesday spoke with President Barham Saleh.

Both leaders have stressed the importance of "guaranteeing security and stability" in the country, according to the Iraqi News Agency.

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