Iraq Cleric Sadr Meets Prime Minister Abadi before Deadline

Iraq Cleric Sadr Meets Prime Minister Abadi before Deadline
Tue Mar 29, 2016 14:24:46

Senior Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has met with the country’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ahead of a deadline set for the premier to enact political reforms.

Iraq's parliament on Monday voted to give Abadi a three-day deadline by which to present his new government or face a vote of no-confidence.

"Thursday will be the final deadline for [al-Abadi] to present his new cabinet," MP Rahim al-Draji told Anadolu Agency.

Sadr's Ahrar bloc, which holds 34 seats in the 328-seat parliament and three ministerial portfolios in the current government, rejected a proposal to give al-Abadi a further two weeks to unveil a new government.

Sadr met the prime minister on Sunday night, hours after the clergyman entered Baghdad’s Green Zone, which houses the government, parliament and various embassies.

The cleric is there to stage a sit-in, in protest at Abadi’s failure to reform the country’s political structure as he has promised.

Last month, Abadi announced a plan to replace current ministers with technocrats because the current system promoted graft by means of appointing people to posts along political, ethnic and sectarian lines.

The whole country has witnessed weekly demonstrations since last August over financial and administrative corruption in the government.

Sadr entered the area together with dozens of his bodyguards and politicians with the Sadr Movement without meeting any resistance on the part of security forces.

Before entering the zone, Sadr told his supporters, “I will get into the Green Zone. I will sit inside, and you will keep sitting in at its gates. No one moves. Everyone stays in his tent, at his place or do not consider yourselves as Sadrists.”

“I thank the security forces … He who attacks them, attacks me,” he said before beginning his sit-in.

A terrorist detonated an explosive belt in central Baghdad on Tuesday morning, killing at least three people, security and medical officials said.

The bomber targeted workers gathered at Tayaran Square, also wounding at least 22 people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but bombings are frequently carried out by ISIS.

The Takfiri group overran large areas in Iraq in 2014 but has since lost significant ground.

While bombings are relatively common in Iraq, they have recently targeted areas outside Baghdad or neighborhoods on the outer edge of the capital that are easier for militants to access.

S/SH 11

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