Yesterday, the sit-in of supporters of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, entered its second day inside the Iraqi parliament building to demand the reform of the political process and reject the nomination of Muhammad Shia al-Sudani to form the new Iraqi government.
Yesterday, thousands of al-Sadr’s supporters stormed the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad and took control of the empty parliament building for the second time in less than a week, expressing their objection to the candidate of al-Sadr’s opponents for prime minister.
The protesters set up tents for the sit-in inside the parliament and others to provide meals for the protesters, as well as assigning large numbers of them to search the entrants to the parliament headquarters in anticipation of any emergency after closing the parliament’s entrances and specifying one entrance for the demonstrators to enter and leave, in preparation for entering an open sit-in in the Iraqi parliament in a step that may prolong Extend the political deadlock or push the country into new violence.
And the scene of the spread of “Tuk-Tuks” (small three-wheeled buses) again after they appeared in abundance in front of the outer fence of the parliament building, and they were transporting protesters and taking them to the parliament headquarters after their first appearance in the October 2019 demonstrations.
The presence of the sit-in in the corridors of Parliament receded, while large numbers of Sadr’s followers from the Iraqi provinces flocked to participate in the sit-in, and prominent leaders of the Sadrist movement were found among the masses of the protesters, most notably Hakim al-Zamili and Hassan al-Adhari and leaders in Saraya al-Salam, the military wing of the Sadrist movement.
A member of al-Sadr’s political team said that the sit-in is open until their demands are met, which are many.
He added that the Sadrist movement is demanding the dissolution of parliament, the holding of new elections and the replacement of federal judges.
Supporters of the Sadrist movement launched the ceremonies of the first day of Ashura in the corridors of Parliament with tents, Ashura processions and food, the day after the start of their open sit-in.
Yesterday morning, volunteers were distributing soup, boiled eggs, bread and water to the protesters who spent their first night in Parliament, as a journalist in “AFP” witnessed.
In Parliament Garden, some sat on mats under the palm trees while others slept on mattresses and blankets laid on the floor of the Parliament.
Religious songs were broadcast over loudspeakers, coinciding with the start of the month of Muharram yesterday in Iraq.
Street vendors spread out in the place, offering the protestors cold drinks such as tamarind, ice cream, and cigarettes.
The demonstrators reject the name of Muhammad Shia al-Sudani, who was nominated by al-Sadr’s political opponents for the position of prime minister in the coordinating framework that includes Shiite blocs, most notably the State of Law led by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Fatah bloc representing the Popular Mobilization factions.
In this tense context, official working hours were suspended yesterday, in all governorates, on the occasion of the beginning of the month of Muharram, according to a statement issued by the Prime Ministry, “except for security institutions” and at a rate of 50% in “service and health departments.”
For his part, the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, launched an initiative for dialogue between the political parties, calling on them in a press statement yesterday to “come to Erbil… and start an open and inclusive dialogue to reach an understanding and agreement based on the higher interests of the country.”
Barzani said, in the statement, that “increasing the complexity of matters in light of these sensitive circumstances endangers societal peace, security and stability in the country.”
This escalation will further complicate the political scene in the country, which has been in complete paralysis since the early legislative elections in October 2021, with endless negotiations and skirmishes between major parties that have so far been unable to agree on the election of a president and the appointment of a new prime minister.
Meanwhile, the European Union expressed its “concern” about “the continuing demonstrations and the possibility of their escalation in Baghdad,” calling in a statement “all parties to exercise restraint to prevent further violence.”
The European Union called on “all political forces to address the problems through constructive political dialogue.”
• Barzani calls on the political parties in Iraq to have an open dialogue to reach an understanding and agreement.
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