06/13/2022, 12.51
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'Political theatre' in Baghdad: Sadrist MPs resign

MPs from the main bloc in the House resigned at the request of their leader. An attempt to force their hand in order to break the deadlock, eight months before the vote, a new president and government are still missing. Analysts and experts speak of a move with no real effect. The assembly must ratify the decision and does not meet (due to holidays) until August. 



Baghdad (AsiaNews) - There has been another earthquake in the Iraqi political landscape, already marked by eight months of political stalemate that have prevented the appointment of key institutional figures - first and foremost the president of the Republic - and the birth of the new government.

Yesterday, the Sadrist deputies, who refer to the radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, the largest group in Parliament, resigned en bloc following indications given by their leader in recent days. Analysts and experts point out that the move is an attempt to 'force the hand' and put an end to the paralysis by unblocking negotiations for the appointment of a prime minister, but that it will have no concrete effect.  

Last week, al-Sadr had addressed his parliamentarians asking them to sign the resignation paper; a move, he continued, to break the deadlock and relaunch negotiations for a new government. So far, cross vetoes and vested interests in Baghdad have prevented the emergence of a solid majority in parliament and indicate a successor to the current interim premier Mustafa al-Kadhemi. 

Yesterday, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbussi released a message on social media in which he said he had "reluctantly accepted" the request for "the resignation of our brothers and sisters, representatives of the Sadrist bloc". A total of 73 MPs have resigned. "If the survival of the Sadrist bloc is an obstacle to the formation of the government, then all representatives of the bloc," the Shia leader had said, "are ready to resign from parliament. 

Meanwhile, the movement also announced the closure of all al-Sadr-affiliated institutions and offices scattered around the country, with the exception of six centres: the shrine and office of Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr; the headquarters of Muqtada al-Sadr; the heritage office; the museum and the al-Bunyan al-Marsous (the Solid Structure) project.

Political analyst Hamzeh Hadad called the move by the Sadrists and allies a 'more political theatre' in a scenario that remains deadlocked. "Even if the president [of parliament] accepted the resignation," he explained, "the House must vote with an absolute majority after reaching a quorum" for the resignation to take effect. Soon the holidays begin and the deputies will not meet until August, effectively freezing the effectiveness and value of the resignation. 

The institutional deadlock remains, threatening to sink a country where, according to UN estimates, one third of the 41 million inhabitants live in poverty. State institutions are weakened by decades of war and corruption, which plagues the state at all levels. Official figures published last year estimated that well over 400 billion euro have disappeared from the country's coffers since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. And despite immense oil and gas reserves, Iraq remains dependent on imports to meet its energy needs, with neighbouring Iran supplying a third of its gas and electricity.

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