Protesters storm Iraqi parliament, oppose nomination of Mohammad Shia al-Sudani as PM

The protesters were supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, whose party members resigned from the parliament earlier this year after failing to win enough support to form a national majority government 

July 28, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Iraq protests
(Photo: Anadolu Agency)

Thousands of protesters stormed the high security Green Zone in the Iraqi capital Baghdad and entered the parliament building on Wednesday, July 27. The protesters were carrying photos of Muqtada al-Sadr and shouting slogans against the nomination of Mohammad Shia al-Sudani as prime minister.

The protesters dispersed after a few hours following warnings issued by incumbent Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who threatened use of force, and an appeal made by Sadr himself on Twitter asking his supporters to “return safely to your homes.” 

Protesters entered the Green Zone defying water cannons used by the security forces to prevent them. They claimed that Sudani’s nomination should be withdrawn as he is accused of corruption and has close ties with former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. 

Sudani was the minister of human rights during Maliki’s premiership from 2010 to 2014. Before becoming minister, he served as governor of Maysan province for a year. He was nominated to become prime minister by the Coordination Framework led by Maliki’s State of Law and Popular Mobilization Forces’ Fatah alliance.

In the parliamentary elections held in Iraq in October last year, no one group or party won the majority. The Coordination Framework came to lead the efforts to form a government after the Sadr-led alliance failed to do so despite having greater numbers. 

Unlike the Coordination Framework, which wants to form a consensus government as has been the norm since the formation of the post-US invasion political system in the country, Sadr wanted to create a national majority government but could not gather enough numbers in the 329-seat parliament, following which he asked all the parliament members from his party to resign. Despite the resignations, Sadr still holds a large popular following.  

Sadr insisted on a majority government claiming that it will address the inefficiencies and corruption in the political system, which has been the main concern raised by protesters and had forced the elected government of Adil Abdul Mahdi to step down in October 2019 and ultimately led to fresh elections last year. The protesters have demanded a complete overhaul of the political system that is based on the Muhasasa or sectarian quota system. 

Wednesday’s protests were reported to be one of the largest since the October elections. According to Al-Jazeera, a large number of protesters came from outside Baghdad and only moved out of the Green Zone after Sadr declared, “your message has been heard.” Sadr termed the protests the “muharram revolution for rejection of injustice and corruption.”