Iraqi cleric Sayyed Muqtada Al-Sadr has urged his supporters to continue their sit-in inside the national parliament in Baghdad until his demands, which include the dissolution of parliament and early elections, are met.
The remarks, delivered by the Shiite leader in a televised address from Najaf on Wednesday, could prolong a political deadlock that has kept Iraq without an elected government for nearly 10 months.
Thousands of Al-Sadr’s followers stormed Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign missions, last weekend and took over the empty parliament building staging a sit-in that is continuing.
Al-Sadr supporters have set up an encampment with tents and food stalls surrounding parliament.
The moves were a response to attempts by many rivals of the cleric to form a government with prime ministerial candidates of whom Al-Sadr does not approve.
Al-Sadr won the largest number of seats in parliament in an October election but failed to form a government that would exclude his rivals.
He withdrew his lawmakers from parliament and has instead applied pressure through protests and the parliament sit-in.
Al-Sadr reiterated during his address that he was ready to “be martyred” for his cause.
“Dissolve parliament and hold early elections,” Al-Sadr said.