Iraqi protesters storm Parliament for the second time in a week | New


Iraqi protesters have once again stormed the Iraqi parliament in a show of support for influential Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, days after they stormed the legislature and suspended a session to appoint a new prime minister.

On Saturday, security forces fired tear gas and sound bombs as protesters used ropes to pull down and climb a number of large concrete barriers surrounding the green zone, which isolates government buildings and foreign embassies.

“Everyone is with you Sayyid Muqtada,” protesters chanted, using his title as a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s media office had issued a statement calling on security agents to guarantee the security of state institutions.

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Baghdad, said protesters had not backed down despite reports of several injuries.

He added that on Wednesday, when a large crowd occupied the parliament building, security forces let large crowds into the perimeter relatively unhindered.

The protesters oppose the candidacy of Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, a former minister and former provincial governor, who is the pro-Iran coordination cadre’s choice for the post of prime minister.

A vote announcing al-Sudani as prime minister was due to take place on Saturday, but the session was suspended after Wednesday’s events.

Abdelwahed said al-Sadr supporters rallied again because they did not trust parliament not to go ahead with the vote. “They say that the fact that the session has been suspended does not mean that the vote cannot take place behind closed doors,” he said.

Supporters of Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr hold a photo of their leader inside the country's parliament.
Supporters of Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr hold a photo of their leader inside the country’s parliament [Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP]

Al-Sadr’s bloc emerged from the October elections as the largest parliamentary faction, but was still far from having a majority.

Ten months later, deadlock persists over the installation of a new government – the longest since the 2003 US invasion restored political order in the oil-rich country.

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari said people are demanding change. “They don’t want the old corrupt politicians to stay in power, they don’t want the country to have [interference] by the United States and Iran,” the journalist said, speaking from inside the occupied parliament.

“We are here for a revolution,” said protester Haydar al-Lami.

“We don’t want the corrupt, we don’t want those who were in power to come back…since 2003…they have only hurt us.

Although al-Sadr’s alliance won the most seats in October’s parliamentary elections, bickering political parties failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to choose a president – a milestone important before a Prime Minister can be selected.

After negotiations stalled, al-Sadr withdrew his bloc from parliament and announced he was leaving talks on forming a government.

Mass mobilization is a well-rehearsed strategy of al-Sadr, a mercurial figure who has emerged as a powerful force with a nationalist and anti-Iranian agenda.

The storming of parliament on Wednesday came after al-Sadr’s Tehran-backed political rival, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, nominated a pro-Iranian politician to be Iraq’s new leader .

By convention, the post of Prime Minister goes to a leader of the Iraqi Shiite majority.

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