Iraqi prime minister calls on political rivals to hold urgent talks as tensions worsen

  2022-08-17 11:51      124 View Count        Comment

Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has called on rival political leaders to meet on Wednesday in an attempt to find a way out of the impasse over forming a new government amid fears that the current stand-off could turn violent.
Iraq held early elections on October 10 in response to one of the core demands of a nationwide, pro-reform protest movement that erupted in 2019 in central and southern parts of the country.

The elections were the fifth parliamentary vote for a full-term government since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Since then, bitter rivalry among political elites, mainly among the country’s majority Shiites, has delayed the process to form a government. With the Shiites divided there are fears that Iraq could slide into intra-sectarian strife.
On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi invited the political leaders to a national dialogue at the government palace in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

The meeting is meant to kick start a “serious national dialogue and joint thinking in order to find the needed solutions to the current political crisis”, Mr Al Kadhimi said in a statement.
He called for de-escalation “to give enough room for moderate proposals within the national debate”.
It is not clear who will attend the meeting.
The conflict reached worrying levels last month when followers of the powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr breached the Green Zone, occupied the parliament building and staged an open-ended sit-in.
Mr Al Sadr wants to dissolve parliament and hold snap elections.
Following his inability to form a new government after emerging as a clear winner in the elections — with 73 seats in the 329-seat legislative body — Mr Al Sadr in June ordered his MPs to resign.
He blamed his rivals, the Iran-backed Co-ordination Framework, for hindering his efforts to form a government through lawsuits and boycotts of parliamentary session.

After Mr Al Sadr's supporters stormed parliament, tension escalated further when the Co-ordination Framework launched counter-protests and a sit-in in another part of the Green Zone, accusing the Shiite leader of staging a coup.
The CF, which consists of influential Tehran-backed militias and other small political parties, wants to set conditions and is demanding a new transitional government before new polls.
The Green Zone is home to key government buildings including the Cabinet and the parliament as well as foreign embassies and senior politicians' residencies.

(The National/PUKNOW)



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