Iraq: Shiite leader Sadr announces leaving politics, his supporters invade the headquarters of the Council of Ministers in Baghdad

Hundreds of supporters of Moqtada Sadr let their anger burst out Monday, August 29 in Iraq, by invading the headquarters of the Council of Ministers in Baghdad. The Shiite leader announced his “permanent withdrawal” of politics, adding to the serious crisis that Iraq is going through. This outburst of anger comes as political barons have failed to agree on a new prime minister since the October 2021 legislative elections.

On Monday afternoon, supporters of the religious and political leader entered the “Palace of the Republic”, located in the ultra-secure Green Zone whose access has been closed, announced a security source on condition of anonymity. According to an AFP photographer, the demonstrators took their places in armchairs, some waving Iraqi flags, others taking selfies. Still others bathed in a pool in the garden.

A curfew decreed in Baghdad

the “Palace of the Republic”, built under Saddam Hussein, was used by the former dictator to receive distinguished guests. Today it houses the Council of Ministers which Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi suspended “until further notice”calling Moqtada Sadr to “urge protesters to withdraw from government institutions”. The army announced the implementation of a curfew in the whole country at 6 p.m. Paris time, and the forces of order were deployed in number in the capital.

Moqtada Sadr, as influential as he is unpredictable, has constantly raised the stakes to make his demand heard in recent weeks: the dissolution of Parliament, followed by new elections. For a month, his supporters have camped outside the Parliament and they even briefly blocked access to Iraq’s highest judicial body last week.

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A heavyweight in Iraqi politics

On Monday, in a new twist, Moqtada Sadr announced his “permanent withdrawal” of politics and the closure of institutions linked to his family, “with the exception of the Sacred Mausoleum (of his father Mohammed Sadr, who died in 1999, editor’s note), the Museum of Honor and the Al-Sadr Heritage Authority”.

The Shiite leader is one of the heavyweights of Iraqi politics who can aggravate the crisis or get the country out of the impasse. His current had arrived first in the legislative elections with 73 seats (out of 329). But, unable to form a majority, Moqtada Sadr had his deputies resign in June, claiming to want “reform” the system from top to bottom and put an end to the “corruption”.

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