World Bulletin / News Desk
Thousands of supporters of firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr staged protests in Baghdad on Wednesday to demand the dissolution of Iraq’s High Electoral Commission.
"The electoral commission in its current form is unviable," protestor Murad al-Yaseri told Anadolu Agency.
"It is beholden to political parties," he added. "It is incapable of overseeing impartial elections."
Protestors gathered outside the capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone, demanding the establishment of a new electoral commission "untainted by political affiliations".
Security forces, meanwhile, closed the main entrance of the Green Zone -- home to numerous government buildings and foreign diplomatic missions -- while riot police were deployed along adjacent roads.
Al-Sadr has warned that he and his supporters would take "escalatory measures" if their demand was not met.
Iraqi legislative elections are slated for April of next year.
For the past year, al-Sadr’s supporters have staged numerous protests in Baghdad in an effort to pressure Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi to appoint a government of "technocrats" untainted by corruption or sectarian affiliations.
In a dramatic turn of events last summer, thousands of Sadr loyalists stormed Iraq’s parliament -- located in the Green Zone -- to press home their demands.
In mid-2015, parliament approved a sweeping raft of reforms ostensibly aimed at meeting popular demands to eliminate government corruption and streamline state bureaucracy.