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Al-Sadr Followers Still Encamped at Iraqi Parliament After Four Days

Followers of Muqtada al-Sadr have been occupying the Iraqi parliament building.
Iraq crisis simmers as protesters shut parliament down. AP
Iraq crisis simmers as protesters shut parliament down. AP

Followers of an influential Shiite cleric camped out inside the Iraqi parliament building for a fourth straight day were instructed Tuesday to leave the building but maintain their protest outside.

In a tweet, a representative of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told the hundreds of loyalists to leave the parliament building in the capital of Baghdad within 72 hours. They were told to move their protest outside its premises but to remain inside the Green Zone, which houses Iraq’s government buildings and foreign embassies. The sit-in was in its fourth day Tuesday.

Al-Sadr and his party were winners in the October parliamentary elections but were unable to muster a majority of support to form a government. His followers stormed the parliament Saturday at his command to prevent the Iran-backed Coordination Framework alliance from voting in a new government after naming Mohamed al-Sudani as candidate for prime minister.

Tuesday’s move is a de-escalation on al-Sadr’s part but far from a disbanding of the protests. It comes a day after his rivals in the Framework Alliance staged a protest that many feared would lead to street battles between loyalists of the rival Shiite factions. The protesters withdrew on orders from Qais al-Khazali, a leading member of the Framework.

Muqtada al-Sadr, who was largely opposed to U.S. forces in Iraq, is the son of the late Shia leader, Mohammad al-Sadr.

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