Muqtada Sadr threatens to end parliament if MPs don’t attend Saturday session

Iraq’s Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said on Friday it is a “shame” to leave Iraq without a government, threatening to end the Iraqi parliament if lawmakers don’t attend Saturday’s session to select a new president.

“We are waiting for the independent lawmakers [to attend the session] and we hope that they, and even the national opposition, will take an honorable stand for their people, as they are impartially waiting for the formation of a reformist majority government,” Sadr said in a tweet.

The Iraqi Council of Representatives is scheduled to hold a session on Saturday to select a new president, with 40 candidates are competing to win lawmakers’ votes.

Save the Nation alliance formed by the Sadrist Movement led by Sadr, part of the Sunnis and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) announced on Wednesday that Rebar Ahmed and Mohammed Jaafar al-Sadr were their candidates for the positions of president and prime minister.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has re-nominated Barham Salih as its candidate for the presidency, competing against KDP’s Ahmed.

A majority of two-thirds, 220 out of 329 MPs, is required to elect the president. A previous session to elect the president of the republic was postponed on February 7 due to an insufficient number of MPs present.

The Sadrist Movement boycotted the session in February, announcing it had suspended negotiations for forming a new government.

There’s a possibility that the parliament would fail to reach a legal quorum on Saturday due to disagreements between the Sadrist Movement and Coordination Framework including other Shia parties.

“Let the loyalists and the opposition stand together to build a free, independent homeland with prestige, sovereignty and dignity, without occupation, normalization or terrorism,” Sadr tweeted.

“Indeed, it is shameful for Iraq and its people to be left with a government,” he said.

The cleric stressed that the upcoming government would not be the same as the previous ones.

“Whoever attended the session, even if it did not vote, was truly independent and honest. Whoever left it is clearly not; otherwise, it may be the end of the Council of Representatives,” Sadr stated.

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