Iraq’s Moqtada Al Sadr calls on MPs to write letters of resignation from Parliament

Political deadlock has delayed government formation nearly eight months after general elections were held

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf. AFP
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Iraq’s populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr on Thursday called on parliamentarians who are part of his political bloc to prepare their letters of resignation due to political deadlock.

Mr Al Sadr’s political group, known as the Sadrists, won 73 seats in the October elections, becoming the clear winner.

But the bloc fell short of gaining a majority — 165 seats in the 329-seat Parliament — needed to form the government.

“If the Sadrist movement is hindering government formation, then all the members of the bloc are ready to resign,” Mr Al Sadr said in a statement.

“Those in the bloc shall write their resignation letter, and it should be submitted once they are instructed to do so in the upcoming days."

Political impasse

Mr Al Sadr said reforms in Iraq cannot be made without a national majority government.

The main issue of the political impasse is Iraq's so called “Shiite house”, which is failing to agree on a nomination for a president and prime minister to form the new government.

The cleric does not have enough members to establish a clear majority, which has forced him to reach out to form a non-traditional alliance.

He has chosen to ally himself with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) as well as Sunni parties to form a coalition called “Saving the Homeland”, which has 155 seats.

The coalition has backed KDP candidate Rebar Ahmed for the presidency, a post reserved for Kurds, while the post of prime minister, by convention, goes to a Shiite.

Mr Al Sadr is hoping to put forth a “majority government” led by his cousin, Iraq's ambassador to Britain, Jaafar Al Sadr.

However this has been blocked by the Co-ordination Framework, a powerful alliance that includes former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki's party and the Iran-backed Fatah Alliance.

It has gained 130 members of Parliament, who have boycotted three sessions to elect a new president.

The framework is pushing for a tradition of forming a “consensus government” between Shiite parties.

The Iraqi constitution stipulates the president should be elected within 30 days of the first meeting of the new Parliament, which in this case was on January 9.

But the date was extended by Iraq's highest legal body, the federal court, to April 6.

That attempt also failed, throwing state institutions into limbo.

Updated: June 09, 2022, 2:52 PM