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Supporters of a cleric ordered to withdraw from the Iraqi parliament


BAGHDAD — Supporters of an influential Shia cleric camping inside Iraq’s parliament building for a fourth straight day were ordered on Tuesday to leave the building but keep their protest outside.

In a tweet, a representative of the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told the hundreds of loyalists to leave the parliament building in the capital of Baghdad within 72 hours. They were told to move their protest outside its premises but to stay inside the Green Zone, which houses Iraqi government buildings and foreign embassies. The sit-in was in its fourth day on Tuesday.

Al-Sadr and his party won parliamentary elections in October, but failed to muster a majority of support to form a government. His supporters stormed parliament on Saturday at his request to prevent the Iran-backed Coordination Framework alliance from voting in a new government after it nominated Mohamed al-Sudani as its candidate for prime minister.

Tuesday’s decision is a de-escalation on al-Sadr’s part, but far from a dissolution of the protests. It comes a day after rivals in the Framework alliance staged a protest that many feared could lead to street battles between loyalists from rival Shia factions. The protesters withdrew on the orders of Qais al-Khazali, a leading member of the Framework.

Shia officials told The Associated Press that the cadre offered al-Sadr to step down from the parliament building. In return, the parliament building would remain closed to lawmakers.

Al-Sadr supporters have camped inside the parliament building in the heavily fortified Green Zone since thousands stormed the building on Saturday, demanding reforms and denouncing the Israel-backed alliance. Iran. Al-Sadr representatives called on supporters of Iraqi provinces to demonstrate in their towns and villages in support of the parliamentary sit-in.

Al-Sadr supporters were also ordered to hold mass prayers on Friday at the Victory Arch, a monument also located inside the neighborhood.


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