Iraqi Shia cleric urged to reverse decision to boycott polls

Baghdad: Several Iraqi political leaders have called on prominent Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to reverse his decision to boycott the October 10 parliamentary elections.

In a tweet on Friday, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said that “the country needs the solidarity of the people and the political parties to participate in the elections with the honest competition”, reports Xinhua news agency For his part, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi urged al-Sadr to help “bring the country to safety”.

Ammar al-Hakim, an Iraqi Shia cleric and politician who leads al-Hikma Movement, also urged al-Sadr to rescind his withdrawal from the elections, stressing that “preserving democracy and not abandoning it is the only way to address the failures and bring justice to the people who are looking forward to achieving their rights”.

In a televised address on Thursday, al-Sadr announced his withdrawal from the parliamentary elections due to rampant corruption and unfair competition among political parties.

 He also withdrew his support from all his followers who are part of the current and the upcoming governments because they are “either losers or corrupts, and every one of them should be held accountable”.

Al-Sadr’s Sairoon Coalition became the largest group in Parliament after the 2018 elections and is formed by lawmakers from central and southern Iraq.

Iraq is scheduled to hold early elections on October 10, 2021, in response to the anti-government protests against corruption and lack of public services.

The previous parliamentary elections in Iraq were held on May 12, 2018, and the next elections were originally scheduled to take place in 2022.