Demanding that parliament be dissolved, influential Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr called for fresh elections in Iraq on Wednesday.
Highlighting that he has “no interest” in negotiating with his rivals, Sadr said Iraq has been without a government for nearly 10 months.
In protest at a rival Shiite faction’s nomination for a prime minister, Sadr’s supporters occupied parliament for a fifth consecutive day.
Taking over the parliament building to prevent his opponents from forming a government, thousands of followers of Sadr stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone last week.
Calling his moves a coup and demanding his supporters leave parliament, Sadr’s rivals then staged Monday’s counter-protest outside the Green Zone.
The rival protests a dangerous prospect for Iraq and threatens to drag it into more violence, each side is backed by heavily-armed paramilitaries.
Accusing powerful parties and militias of making a mockery of the demonstrations in 2019, Iraqi activists blame them for the country being mired in dysfunction despite its vast oil wealth and relative peace in recent years.
Sadr’s social-political Sadrist Movement has been widely accused of corruption and nepotism that sent Iraq into chaos as the Islamic State took over a third of the country in 2014.
Denying they have mismanaged state institutions and stolen money, Iraq’s main Shi’ite leaders share power with large but less influential Sunni and Kurdish parties.
(With inputs from agencies)
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