Iraqi PM cuts Egypt trip short as Sadrist protesters force judiciary shutdown
Followers of Muqtada al-Sadr are demanding that the judiciary dissolve parliament, despite officials announcing they do not have the authority to do so
By News Desk - August 23 2022

(Photo credit: Ahmed al-Rubaye/AFP)

Baghdad announced on 23 August that caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi cut short a trip to Egypt and is returning to Iraq as a result of growing unrest in the streets.

The decision was made after supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gathered outside the headquarters of the Supreme Judicial Council and Federal Supreme Court in Baghdad, forcing both institutions to suspend their activities.

Judicial authorities say they have also received threats by phone from the Sadrists, who are demanding that the judiciary dissolve parliament.

“The right to demonstrate is guaranteed in accordance with the constitution, with the need to respect state institutions to continue their work in the service of the people,” Kadhimi’s office said via statement.

The caretaker premier also called on all political groups “to calm down … and to hold an immediate meeting of [political leaders] in order to activate the national dialogue procedures and defuse the crisis.”

Speaker of parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi also condemned the actions by Al-Sadr’s supporters, saying: “We support the demonstrations in accordance with the legal and constitutional contexts … But our litigation should not be with the judiciary, which we all resort to if we quarrel.”

Iraq’s Federal Supreme Council was scheduled to consider a lawsuit demanding the dissolution of parliament on Tuesday, however, the session was postponed until next week.

Earlier in the month judicial authorities announced they do not have the authority to dissolve parliament, as lawmakers are the ones tasked with voting for such a decision.

However, since the start of the month, Sadrists have been preventing lawmakers from holding a parliamentary session.

Iraq has been mired in a political deadlock over the past 10 months, following controversial elections when Al-Sadr’s political bloc won by a landslide.

The ensuing standoff has pushed the nation into the longest stretch without a fully functioning government since the start of the US-military occupation in 2003.

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