Prominent Iraqi cleric and seasoned politician Muqtada al-Sadr has given the country's apex court a one-week ultimatum to dissolve the parliament amid a deepening post-election political crisis gripping the country.
In his latest remarks on Wednesday, the populist leader of the Sadr faction or Saeroon threatened unspecific consequences if the country's judiciary does not heed his call of dissolving the parliament by the end of next week and open doors for early elections, reports said.
Iraq has been grappling with a political crisis in the absence of a functional government since October when it held its last legislative elections.
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, prompting the current political 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.
Sadr and his supporters have helped inflame tensions over the last two weeks with thousands of his followers storming and occupying the country's parliament and preventing the formation of a government nearly 10 months after the last elections.
His followers stormed the parliament late last month as the rival parliamentary faction known as the Coordination Framework attempted to form a government led by Muhammad Shia Sudani. a figure close to former premier Nouri al-Maliki.
Sadr warned that the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq must heed his call, saying his supporters would continue their sit-in at the parliament until then, and warning that the protesters would “adopt a different position” if the court failed to dissolve the legislative body.
The judiciary "must dissolve parliament by the end of next week... if not, the revolutionaries will take another stance," Sadr said in a statement on his Twitter account, without elaborating.
Speaking on Monday, Maliki said there would be no dissolution of the parliament or early elections without the resumption of the legislature’s routine functions.
“No dissolution of the parliament, or a change in the system, or early elections without the return of the Council [of Representatives] to holding sessions. For it (the parliament) is the one who discusses these demands, and what it decides, we will follow,” Maliki said in a televised video statement.
He stressed that Iraq is a country of many components and that “no will shall be imposed upon it” unless it is one that reflects the entirety of the people.
His remarks came two days after Sadr asserted that there were “no alternatives” to the dissolution of the parliament, saying it was a popular, national, and political demand and had received “positive responses" from people across the country.