Thousands of supporters of powerful Iraqi cleric, Moqtada Sadr, protested on Monday to oppose the recently announced candidacy of Mohammed Al-Sudani, a former minister and ex-provincial governor, who is the pro-Iran Coordination Framework’s pick for premier.
Massive protests began on Monday afternoon in the governorates of Maysan, Dhi Qar, Babil, Diwaniyah, Wasit and other governorates.
Salih Muhammad Al-Iraqi, known as Minister Al-Sadr, called in a statement for the demonstrations to continue until the sunset prayer, local time, in support of fellow protesters camped out inside the country’s Parliament building.
The Sadrist bloc and the Coordination Framework are locked in a power struggle.
Sadr’s bloc emerged from elections in October as the biggest parliamentary faction, but was still far short of a majority and, 10 months on, deadlock persists over the establishment of a new government.
While the Sadrist bloc wished to form a “national majority” government, the Coordinating Framework forces seek to form a “consensual” government.
On the other hand, later in the day, thousands of the Coordinating Framework supporters filled the bridge leading to the fortified Green Zone, which includes government institutions, Western diplomatic headquarters and the Parliament headquarters.
Iraqi security forces sprayed water on the demonstrators to prevent them from crossing the bridge leading to the Green Zone, according to an AFP journalist.
Some of the demonstrators raised banners that read “the people will not allow coups” as well as Iraqi flags, Islamic banners and pictures of the supreme Shia authority, Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani.
“We are here to demand the imposition of the law and the achievement of social justice for the people, and we do not want a coup against the State or the Constitution,” said 25-year-old demonstrator, Ahmed Ali. “This is the Parliament of the people, not the Parliament of a class” he added.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, said the Islamic Republic views the recent developments in Iraq as an “internal affair” that must be resolved through dialogue. “We are carefully and sensitively following the current developments in Iraq,” he told reporters.