Iraq’s Sadrists protest to change election panel
12 Feb 2017 - 11:09
BAGHDAD: Thousands of supporters of firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr staged fresh protests in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Saturday to demand the dissolution of the country’s electoral commission.
Protesters gathered in central Baghdad, demanding the establishment of a new electoral commission "untainted by political affiliations".
“The next move will be up to the people,” Mohamed al-Kaabi, a representative for al-Sadr, told protesters, vowing “escalatory measures” if their demands were not met.
Security forces sealed off routes leading to the capital’s fortified Green Zone, which houses government institutions and foreign embassies, over the protests.
The Shia cleric says that members of the election mission were not suited to hold fair elections in Iraq.
Iraqi legislative elections are slated for April of next year.
For the past year, al-Sadr’s supporters have staged numerous protests in Baghdad in an effort to pressure Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi to appoint a government of "technocrats" untainted by corruption or sectarian affiliations.
In a dramatic turn of events last summer, thousands of al-Sadr loyalists stormed Iraq’s parliament -- located in the Green Zone -- to press home their demands.
In mid-2015, parliament approved a sweeping raft of reforms ostensibly aimed at meeting popular demands to eliminate government corruption and streamline state bureaucracy.