Moqtada Al Sadr: Iraq needs national majority government

Shiite cleric’s political group emerged the winner on October 10, winning 73 seats in 329-member parliament

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, whose political group emerged the clear winner in the national elections in October, has called for the formation of a majority government.

In a statement on his Twitter account on Monday, Mr Al Sadr said: “What the country needs to be done in the future is [to have] a national majority government.”

Mr Al Sadr said there will be two groups inside parliament.

“One forms the government and takes it upon itself the task of implementing reforms at all levels; politics, government, public services, diplomacy and others,” he said.

The other will be opposition “whom we will consult and will not be marginalised”.

Since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, the US introduced a new political system in the country based on national elections to be held every four years to select a parliament, from which the government is formed.

Under an unofficial agreement, Iraq’s presidency – a largely ceremonial role – is held by a Kurd, while the prime minister's post is for a Shiite and the parliament speaker's a Sunni. Other government posts are divided among the country’s political parties based on their religious and ethnic background.

Under this system, the country suffered from widespread corruption, mismanagement and bad public services, while loyalties are now to political parties rather than the state.

The Sadrist Bloc won 73 seats in the 329-member parliament in the October 10 early elections.

Sunni Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi’s Taqadum group won 37 seats, while former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki’s State of Law bloc was third with about 35 seats.

The Iran-backed Fatah Alliance, made up mainly of Shiite militias, won only 14 seats, significantly fewer than the 48 seats it secured in 2018 elections. Independent candidates are expected to control 30 to 50 seats.

Shiite political parties, mainly the Fatah Alliance and State of Law, have rejected the results and demanded recounts of all ballot boxes.

Their supporters have been protesting in Baghdad outside one of the entrances to the heavily fortified Green Zone, where election commission and government offices are located.

Since last week, the elections body has been recounting more than 2,000 ballot boxes after accepting appeals contested their results. The manual count for nearly half of the boxes had so far matched the initial results, the commission said.

Death sentence

Meanwhile, a court in the southern city of Basra on Monday sentenced a man to death by hanging for the killing of two prominent journalists last year.

Dijlah TV correspondent Ahmed Abdul-Samad and his cameraman Safaa Ghali were shot dead by gunmen on January 2020.

Their deaths were part of a wave of targeted killings against activists and journalists covering the protest movement that erupted in late October 2019.

Nearly 600 people died due to heavy-handed crackdown by the security forces and targeted killings widely blamed on Iran-backed militias.

In a statement, the court in Basra said the man convicted in the killing of the two journalists confessed to his crimes, saying the aim of their killing was to “destabilise security and stability to achieve terrorist goals”.

The court provided no details about the man’s identity or affiliation with any militant or other groups. The case is now with a higher court, which can either confirm the death penalty, hand down a lesser sentence or call for a retrial.

Updated: November 2nd 2021, 8:51 AM
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