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Iraq president encourages early elections to end political deadlock

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Iraq president encourages early elections to end political deadlock

President Barham Saleh says early legislative elections would be in line with the aspirations of the Iraqi people and would guarantee political and social stability.

President Saleh spoke in Baghdad hours after supporters of al Sadr withdrew from Baghdad's Green Zone following nearly 24 hours of clashes.
President Saleh spoke in Baghdad hours after supporters of al Sadr withdrew from Baghdad’s Green Zone following nearly 24 hours of clashes.
(AFP PHOTO / HO / IRAQI PRESIDENCY)

Iraqi President Barham Saleh has encouraged early legislative elections to settle a political crisis that escalated into deadly clashes this week, killing dozens and wounding hundreds more.

“Holding new, early elections in accordance with a national consensus represents an exit from the stifling crisis,” Saleh said in a speech on Tuesday.

“It guarantees political and social stability and responds to the aspirations of the Iraqi people”.

Early elections, less than a year after the last polls, have been a key demand of Shia Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr, whose supporters battled state security forces and Shia factions backed by neighbouring Iran in violence that started on Monday.

Thirty Sadr supporters were shot dead and at least 570 others were injured after protesters stormed the government palace following their leader’s announcement that he was quitting politics.

President Saleh spoke hours after supporters of Sadr withdrew from Baghdad’s Green Zone following the nearly 24 hours of clashes.

READ MORE: Iraq’s cleric Muqtada al Sadr quits politics

Months of political paralysis

Sadr and his supporters have spearheaded calls for the dissolution of parliament and new legislative elections following months of political paralysis.

Under the constitution, parliament can only be dissolved by an absolute majority vote in the house, following a request by one-third of deputies or by the prime minister with the approval of the president.

Sadr’s bloc emerged from last October’s election as the biggest in the legislature, with 73 seats, but far short of a majority.

Since then, the country has been mired in political deadlock due to disagreement between Shia factions over forming a coalition.

In June, his lawmakers quit in a bid to break the gridlock.

Sadr’s supporters had for weeks been staging a sit-in outside Iraq’s parliament, after storming the legislature’s interior on July 30.

READ MORE:
Situation tense in Iraq as death toll from violent clashes mounts
Source: AFP




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