Three days after the occupation of the Iraqi parliament by supporters of Moqtada Sadr on Wednesday, the same protesters surged into the same building once again.
It was on this Saturday that according to the Iraqi state news agency, thousands of demonstrators raged into the Green Zone, a high-security area where the parliament of Iraq and other government offices as well as foreign embassies are located.
Brandishing Iraqi flags and portraits of Sadr, the supporters first gathered in Tahrir Square and the entrance of the Green Zone this Saturday morning. But after passing through four checkpoints and security checkpoints with no hardship, they reached the parliament headquarters once again and found their way into the building. Last Wednesday, Sadr’s supporters gathered in the same place to protest the candidacy of “Mohammed Shia al-Sudani” for the post of Iraqi Prime Minister, and then they occupied the seat of the parliament to show their anguish.
There were no representatives in the parliament at the time of the surge and only security forces were present inside the building. However, the Iraqi Ministry of Health announced in a statement that 60 people were injured as a result of both the protests that occurred in the Iraqi parliament in three days.
Reactions to the protests
Mustafa Al-Kazemi, the Prime Minister of Iraq and the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces, quickly reacted to the repeated move and said in a statement that “continuing the escalation of political tensions will increase the tension in the streets and will not serve public interests.” He also called on the protesters to leave the Green Zone as “immediately” as possible.
Meanwhile, Saleh Mohammad Al-Iraqi, one of Moqtada Sadr’s relatives who is also known as “Minister of Sadr” in Iraq, ignored the violence in the gathering and said that “we hold political organizations responsible for any violation of peaceful demonstrators in Baghdad.”
Barham Saleh, the president Iraq, also issued a statement and asserted that the demonstrations were the legal right of the people, but at the same time emphasized the necessity of observing the rules and maintaining public order and considering the national interests of Iraq. “Our country is in a sensitive situation now and faces difficult challenges,” Saleh further said, adding that the requirement of such conditions is “integrity and maintaining the democratic and peaceful process in the country.”
290 days without a president!
According to the constitution of Iraq, the parliament members must first elect the new president of Iraq before electing the prime minister. However, more than 9 months have passed since the election in Iraq and yet there is no sign of an agreement between the members of parliament on the election of the president and the prime minister. Passing 290 days without a president, prime minister and cabinet is a new record in the political deadlocks of Iraq in the last two decades.
The longest previous deadlock, which lasted 289 days, occurred back in 2010 and ended with the re-election of Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister. Currently, Al-Kazemi and his cabinet, whose position as prime minister should have ended months ago, are running the affairs of the country.
If the various factions do not reach an agreement on the formation of the government, Kazemi may remain as the interim prime minister until the new elections are held. But agreement on the formation of a new government may be delayed even more if Sadr’s supporters continue their destabilizing movements.