Curfew declared in Iraqi capital as cleric’s supporters storm presidential palace

Move comes after Muqtada al-Sadr announces withdrawal from politics.

Curfew declared in Iraqi capital as cleric’s supporters storm presidential palace

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command declared curfew in the capital Baghdad on Monday as supporters of influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the Republican Palace, where the government is seated.

The move came shortly after al-Sadr announced his total withdrawal from politics amid a months-long political crisis in the country.

The Command imposed the curfew at 15:30 local time (1230 GMT).

Iraqi security forces fired heavily to disperse protesters from the vicinity of the palace and took full control of it, according to local media.

For his part, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi suspended Cabinet sessions until further notice, the state news agency INA reported citing a government statement.

Al-Kadhimi’s media office said the move came after protesters stormed the palace.

On Saturday, al-Sadr called on the country’s political parties to step aside and hold early elections to help solve Iraq’s months-long political crisis.

He also called for eliminating all parties and personalities that participated in the political process since the US occupation in 2003, from the political scene in Iraq.

Intra-Shia disputes have prevented the formation of a new government in Iraq since the last elections on Oct. 10, 2021.

Hüseyin Demir

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