World Bulletin / News Desk
Prominent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Monday began a one-man sit-in inside Baghdad’s Green Zone in a fresh attempt to pressure Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to appoint a new government.
Earlier this month, thousands of al-Sadr’s supporters staged protests outside the Green Zone -- which remain ongoing -- to demand that the prime minister form a new government of technocrats.
"We’re carrying the banner of reform; let’s work together for the success of this project," al-Sadr told supporters camped outside the heavily-fortified enclave, which houses the prime minister’s office, Iraq’s parliament and a number of foreign diplomatic missions.
The influential Shia leader went on to urge supporters to maintain their protests outside the Green Zone.
Al-Sadr wants the prime minister to replace his current cabinet with a government of "technocrats" untainted by corruption or sectarianism -- both of which, critics say, have hamstrung Iraq’s previous post-invasion governments.
"Security forces have allowed al-Sadr to enter the Green Zone while stepping up security around the sit-in [outside the zone]," protester Ihsan Yasser told Anadolu Agency on Monday.
"Protesters will abide by al-Sadr’s instructions to stay outside the Green Zone," he stressed.
Last month, al-Sadr presented al-Abadi with a 45-day deadline to present a list of nominees for the sought-for technocrat government.
The Shia leader went on to warn that his followers would storm the Green Zone if the demands were not met.
Meanwhile, the United Iraqi Alliance, a Shia-led parliamentary bloc, has pledged to answer what it described as "popular calls" for a technocratic government.
In a statement, the alliance said it would work with other political blocs to ensure that the cabinet was reshuffled in coming days, while also reiterating its support for ongoing efforts to fight corruption.
Last summer, Iraq’s parliament approved a sweeping raft of reforms proposed by al-Abadi. The reforms are aimed at meeting popular demands to eliminate widespread government corruption and streamline state bureaucracy.
Al-Sadr’s "Ahrar" bloc in parliament holds 34 seats in the 328-seat assembly and three ministerial portfolios in Iraq’s current government.Last Mod: 28 Mart 2016, 17:22