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Iraq: Muqtada al-Sadr's supporters storm parliament in Baghdad's Green Zone

Demonstrator's chanted slogans and held aloft pictures of the Shia cleric during protest at a rival bloc’s nomination for prime minister
Supporters of Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr protest outside the main gate of Baghdad's Green Zone against the nomination of Mohammed al-Sudani for the prime minister position, on 27 July 2022 (AFP)

Dozens of supporters of powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed parliament on Wednesday during a protest against the selection of a nominee for prime minister by Iran-backed parties.

Local news agency Rudaw appeared to broadcast footage from inside parliament's meeting hall where protesters could be heard chanting slogans in support of Sadr.

The demonstrators were protesting the recent nomination of Mohammed al-Sudani as the official nominee of the Coordination Framework bloc, a coalition led by Iran-backed Shia parties and their allies.

Sudani was selected by former premier Nouri al-Maliki, who now heads the State of Law coalition. Before Sudani can face parliament to be seated officially as premier-designate, parties must first select a president.

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Caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi called for calm and demanded that protesters "immediately withdraw" from the building.

He warned in a statement that security forces would see to “the protection of state institutions and foreign missions, and prevent any harm to security and order”.

Several of the protesters had carried portraits of Sadr, who recently stepped down from the political process despite having won 73 seats in Iraq’s October 2021 election, making it the largest faction in the 329-seat parliament.

Sadr exited government formation talks after he was not able to corral enough lawmakers to get the majority required to elect Iraq’s next president.

By replacing his lawmakers, the Coordination Framework leader pushed ahead to form the next government. Many fear doing so also opens the doors to greater instability and street protests organised by Sadr's large grassroots following.

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