MPs from Iraq’s largest bloc resign amid impasse

BAGHDAD – Dozens of lawmakers who make up the largest bloc in Iraq’s parliament resigned amid a riot on Sunday persistent political impasseplunging the divided nation into political uncertainty.

The 73 MPs in the bloc of powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr submitted their resignation on the basis of his motion to protest an ongoing political deadlock eight months after the parliamentary elections were held.

Parliament speaker Mohammed Halbousi accepted her resignation.

Al-Sadr, an outsider leader who led an insurgency against US forces after the 2003 invasion, emerged victorious in October’s elections.

The elections came several months earlier than expected in response to mass protests that erupted in late 2019, with tens of thousands demonstrating against endemic corruption, poor services and unemployment.

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The vote brought victory for powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who won 73 of the parliament’s 329 seats, and was a blow to his Iran-backed Shia rivals, who lost about two-thirds of their seats and rejected the result.

Al-Sadr was intent on forming a majority government with his allies, excluding them. But he has been unable to attract enough lawmakers into parliament to secure the two-thirds majority needed to elect Iraq’s next president — a necessary step before appointing the next prime minister and selecting a cabinet.

Spokesman Halbousi later tweeted that he accepted the resignations “reluctantly” based on al-Sadr’s wishes and after serious efforts to dissuade him from taking the step. “For the sake of the country and the people, he has decided to proceed with this decision,” he wrote.

It was not immediately clear what the implications of the resignation of the largest bloc in parliament would be. A veteran Iraqi politician has expressed concern that the resignations could lead to chaos in the country.

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Under Iraqi law, if a seat in parliament becomes vacant, the candidate who receives the second highest number of votes in his constituency would replace him.

This would benefit al-Sadr’s opponents from the so-called Framework of Coordination, a coalition led by Iran-backed Shia parties and their allies – something al-Sadr was unlikely to accept.

There are already concerns that the deadlock and tensions could boil over and lead to street protests by al-Sadr supporters, which could lead to violence between them and rival Shia armed militias.

Al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s most influential political leaders with a large following, has repeatedly alluded to the capabilities of his Saraya Salam militia, which recently opened the doors to recruits in Babylon and Diyala provinces.

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https://www.local10.com/news/2022/06/12/lawmakers-from-iraqs-biggest-bloc-resign-amid-impasse/ MPs from Iraq’s largest bloc resign amid impasse

Sarah Y. Kim

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