Sadr urges bloc not to back Al-Maliki

Iraq's Shi'ite religious cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gives a speech in Najaf, in this June 25, 2014 photo.

Iraq’s Shi’ite religious cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gives a speech in Najaf, in this June 25, 2014 photo.

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s coalition should withdraw its support for his bid for a third term and pick another candidate, Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr urged, amid parliamentary deadlock over the formation of a new government.

Al-Maliki has come under mounting pressure since Islamic State militants took swathes of the north and west of Iraq last month and declared a caliphate on land they and other Sunni armed groups have captured in Iraq and Syria.

In a statement published on his website late on Saturday, Sadr said Al-Maliki “has involved himself and us in long security quarrels and big political crises” and suggested that preventing Al-Maliki from serving a third term would be a “welcome step.”

“It is necessary to demonstrate the national and paternal spirit by aiming for a higher, wider goal from individuals and blocs and by that I mean changing the candidates,” said Sadr, who gained political influence during the US occupation.

“I remain convinced that the brothers in the State of Law coalition must present the candidate for prime minister … because it is the biggest bloc within the National Alliance,” Sadr said.

Dhiya Al-Asadi, secretary general of the Al-Ahrar bloc, the Shiite political party loyal to Sadr, told Reuters: “We are fine with any State of Law candidate as long as he is not Al-Maliki.”

Another Shiite politician, former prime minister Iyad Allawi, called on Al-Maliki on Saturday to give up his bid for a third term or risk the dismemberment of Iraq.

Al-Maliki’s military spokesman Qassim Atta told reporters on Sunday “the security apparatus is working” to analyze a video posted online of a man purporting to be the leader of Islamic State praying at Mosul.

 

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