Rival protests amid political stalemate in Iraq

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rival-demonstrations on political stalemate in Iraq

A counter-demonstration in Baghdad against the Sadr loyalists occupying parliament.

Illustrating the dangerous standoff that is tearing Iraq apart, Moqtada Sadr's political rivals demonstrated in their thousands in Baghdad on Monday, as supporters of the powerful Shia leader continued their occupation of parliament.

Tensions escalated after Mr. Sadr rejected the candidate for prime minister put forward by his opponents, the pro-Iran Shia factions that form the influential Coordinating Framework.

But the crisis has continued to worsen since the legislative elections of October 202!. Months of negotiations between the major parties have failed to elect a new President of the Republic or a new head of government.

Muqtada Sadr sympathizers occupy the Iraqi parliament in protest against an appointment by an opposing political bloc.

Trublion of political life, Mr. Sadr has demonstrated that he can mobilize crowds to advance his pawns: twice in a few days, his supporters have invaded parliament, setting up camp there since Saturday.

Now it's the turn of his adversaries: Monday afternoon, a few thousand demonstrators invaded an avenue leading to the Green Zone, an ultra-secure sector housing government institutions, Western embassies and where the parliament is located.< /p>

The people will not authorize a coup, read the placards of the new protesters, who were also waving Iraqi flags.

< p class="e-p">Police activated water cannons to ward off protesters trying to approach a bridge leading to the Green Zone, an AFP correspondent said.

We don't want a coup against the Constitution, protested Ahmed Ali, 25. It is the Parliament of the people, of all Iraqis, not the Parliament of a certain group, he regretted, denouncing the storming of government institutions.

< p class="e-p">The Coordination Framework has also multiplied calls for dialogue to resolve the crisis. In addition to Hashd al-Shaabi, the alliance includes the formation of former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, a historic enemy of Mr. Sadr.

The x27;Iran, which enjoys a strong influence in Iraq, assured on Monday that it respects the choice of the Iraqi people. For Iranian diplomacy spokesman Nasser Kanani, dialogue is the best way to solve Iraq's internal problems.

On Monday, someone close to Mr. Sadr also called for late afternoon rallies in provinces across Iraq.

An Iraqi security officer stands guard near a sleeping Shiite supporter inside parliament.

In Parliament, a few thousand Sadrist demonstrators remained mobilized, waving flags and portraits of Moqtada Sadr, noted an AFP correspondent. Dancing in the main hall, they chanted Behold the soldiers of the son of the Sayyed, in allusion to Moqtada Sadr and his title of descendant of the Prophet.

At the entrance, men searched the newcomers, while several tents were pitched in the gardens.

“We want to eliminate the government of the corrupt, we don't want to recycle the same faces […] From 2003 until now, those who have run the country have done nothing to develop public services, no healthcare, no education!

— Zaher Al-Atabi, pro-Sadr protester

What does it matter if loyal to Moqtada Sadr also occupy the highest echelons in the ministries. His supporters see him as a figure of opposition and herald of the fight against corruption.

Mr. Sadr is now seeking to put pressure on his opponents when he had left the task of forming a government to them by causing his 73 deputies to resign in June.

Front their resignation, his elected representatives represented the first bloc in the Parliament of 329 deputies.

On Sunday, Mr. Sadr called on all Iraqis to join the protest, seeing it as an opportunity extraordinary for a fundamental change in the political system.

The Coordinating Framework saw this as a call for a coup against the institutions.

On Monday, challenging the two rival camps, Hadi al-Ameri, who leads a faction of Hashd, reiterated his call for a constructive dialogue.

He warned against an atmosphere of media escalation, provoked by press releases and counter-press releases calling for mass mobilizations, which can get out of hand and lead to violence.

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