Plunging the divided nation into political uncertainty, dozens of lawmakers who make up the largest bloc in Iraq’s parliament resigned on Sunday amid a prolonged political stalemate.
In a move apparently intended to press for an end to an eight-month political paralysis, Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr has called on MPs from his bloc to resign in order to create space for the establishment of a new government.
Calling his request a “sacrifice on my part for the country and the people to rid them of an unknown fate”, Sadr, a populist who has positioned himself as a staunch opponent of both Iran and the United States United, also enjoys the support of Sunni lawmakers from Halbussi’s party and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
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Raising the number of seats it holds in parliament to 73, Sadr’s party was the biggest winner in October’s general election.
According to Ali Moussawi, a former Shia lawmaker and political researcher at the University of Baghdad, “Sadr has reached the point where he has accepted the bitter reality that it is almost impossible to form a government away from Iranian-backed groups” .
With intense negotiations between political factions failing to forge a majority in favor of a new prime minister to succeed Mustafa al-Kadhemi, Baghdad’s parliament has been in turmoil since October’s general elections.
Prolonging the political crisis in the war-torn country, Iraqi lawmakers have already exceeded all deadlines for the installation of a new government set out in the constitution.
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Claiming the parliamentary majority, Sadr’s coalition and its rival the Coordination Framework have said they have the power to appoint the prime minister.
In the two decades since the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, more than $400 billion disappeared from state coffers, according to official figures released last year.
With neighboring Iran supplying a third of Iraq’s gas and electricity needs, Iraq remains dependent on imports to meet its energy needs despite its immense oil and gas reserves.
(With agency contributions)
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