World Bulletin / News Desk
Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr laid into Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday, describing him as a "dictator and tyrant" and calling his government "a pack of wolves hungry for murder and money."
"Iraq is reeling under a dishonest government and an obsolete parliament that cannot defend itself," the firebrand cleric said in a televised address only three days after announcing his retirement from politics.
Al-Sadr asserted that al-Maliki's government had failed to improve public services and the country's dire economic situation.
He also accused the government of using "a politicized judiciary against its partners" without elaborating further.
Reiterating his intention to withdraw from politics, al-Sadr said he would stand equidistant from all Iraqi political parties, calling on supporters to take part in April parliamentary polls.
No Iraqi government officials were available for immediate comment on al-Sadr's assertions.
At least 11 Iraqi lawmakers from an al-Sadr-affiliated parliamentary bloc tendered their resignations only hours after al-Sadr declared that he was quitting politics.
In statements on Saturday, al-Sadr attributed the decision to his desire to "preserve the good name of the al-Sadr family… and avoid sedition… inside and outside Iraq."
His statements came on the heels of popular protests against recently passed legislation aimed at improving retirement benefits for top civil servants, lawmakers and government officials.