Insight Online News
Baghdad, July 28 : Hundreds of supporters of cleric Muqtyada al-Sadr have breached a high-security zone in Baghdad and broken into Iraq’s parliament building, BBC reported on Thursday.
They oppose the nomination of a rival candidate for prime minister.
Sadr’s political alliance won the most number of seats in last October’s general election, but it is not in power due to political deadlock following the vote.
Police reportedly fired tear gas and water cannon at the protesters. No lawmakers were present at the time in the parliament building.
The group penetrated Baghdad’s closely-guarded Green Zone – which is home to a number of the capital city’s most important buildings including embassies.
A security source said that the security forces initially appeared to have halted the intruders, but they then managed to breach the security cordon and “stormed the parliament”.
Iraq’s current prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, called on protesters to leave the building while the crowd sang, danced and lay on tables.
The unrest follows nine months of stalemate, during which disputes between the country’s different political factions have prevented the creation of a new government.
Sadr, a Shia cleric who opposed American intervention in Iraq, claimed victory for his nationalist Saeroun movement following October’s election.
But it has proved impossible since then to build a new governing coalition, as Mr Sadr has refused to work with rivals.
He and his supporters have opposed the candidacy of Mohammed al-Sudani for prime minister, accusing him of being too close to Iran.