Supporters of the powerful opposition cleric Moktada Sadr entered the Iraqi parliament today, singing and dancing in protest against the government’s candidate for prime minister.
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi called on the protesters to “withdraw immediately” from the fortified “green zone” of the city, where government buildings and foreign diplomatic missions are located.
Sadr’s political group emerged from last October’s elections as the largest parliamentary faction, but still does not have a majority.
Meanwhile, the deadlock continues in the country for the creation of a new government, writes the French network AFP.
The police fired tear gas shots to disperse the protesters, who in any case did not use major violence to enter the parliament with their flags.
Prime Minister Kadhemi warned in a statement that the security forces will ensure “the protection of state institutions and diplomatic missions” as well as prevent the breakdown of security order.
Even pro-Sadr officials tried to persuade the crowds to leave, as at least one injured protester was seen being helped away.
Sadr’s political bloc won 73 seats in last year’s elections, becoming the largest group in the country’s 329-seat parliament.
The protesters were opposing the candidacy of Mohammed al-Sudani, former minister and governor of the pro-Iranian Cooperation Framework party.
“I am against corrupt officials in power, I am against Sudan’s candidacy because it is corrupt,” said 41-year-old protester Mohamed Ali.
The political crisis in Iraq started last month after the mass boycott of Sadr’s group.
Earlier this month thousands of Muslim believers loyal to Sadr attended Friday prayers in Baghdad in a major show of support.