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Baghdad, Iraq: Several killed in clashes in Green Zone after Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his withdrawal from politics

Several witnesses told CNN that security forces pushed protesters out of Iraq’s Palace of the Republic by firing tear gas and live ammunition. Iraqi security officials told CNN on Monday that hundreds of protesters stormed the building inside the Green Zone following al-Sadr’s announcement.

The Republican Party Palace is where the Iraqi cabinet meets and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has now suspended all government meetings until further notice, according to a statement from his office. The prime minister urged al-Sadr to “help call the protesters to withdraw from government organisations.”

The country’s President Barham Salih also called for calm, saying in a statement on Monday that “the difficult situation our country is going through requires everyone to be calm, to exercise restraint, to prevent escalation. and make sure that the situation does not fall into peril. maze in which everyone will lose.”

Al-Sadr said he made the decision two months ago “not to meddle in political affairs”, but now he announced his “final retirement” from politics and closed all political offices. nationwide, according to a statement released by his office on Monday.

Notice is given later weeks of tension and protests That was sparked by al-Sadr’s decision in June to order his entire political bloc to withdraw from the Iraqi parliament in an apparent show of force after months of political deadlock.

At the time, he said his request was “a sacrifice of mine for the country and its people to escape their unknown fate.”

What's behind the political crisis that erupted in Iraq?

Iraq has struggled to form a new government since October parliamentary elections, which saw Iran-backed Shiite blocs lose seats to Sadists.

Al-Sadr, who in the past positioned himself against both Iran and the United States, common in Iraq. However, his attempt to form a government was established in the months following the election amid opposition from rival blocs.

Finally, in July, the Coordination Framework, the largest Shiite coalition in the Iraqi parliament, nominated Mohammed Shiya al-Sudani to lead the country – sparking protests from al-loyalists. Sadr.

Iraqi security forces on Monday called for thousands of protesters to withdraw from the Green Zone immediately. In a statement, the Iraqi military said it was practicing “the highest degree of self-restraint and brotherly behavior to prevent clashes or shedding of Iraqi blood.”

“Security forces affirm their responsibility to protect government institutions, international missions and public and private property,” the statement said, adding: “In response to peaceful protests Peace is made through the constitution and laws, and the security forces will do their duty to protect security and stability.”

The military has imposed a complete curfew, covering both vehicles and pedestrians, starting at 3:30 p.m. local time in the capital and 7 p.m. local time in the rest of the country. The curfew will be in place until further notice, according to a military statement.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has also called on protesters to leave government buildings and to “allow the government to continue its responsibility to run the state” towards the Iraqi people.

“State institutions must function unimpeded to serve the Iraqi people, in all circumstances and at all times. Respect for the constitutional order will now become important,” UNAMI said in a statement. dad on Monday.

The US Embassy in Baghdad also called for calm, tweeting that “now is the time for dialogue to resolve differences, not through confrontation.”
The embassy added: “The right to peaceful public demonstration is a fundamental element of all democracies, but protesters must also respect the institutions and properties of the Iraqi government, belonging to the Iraqi government. return to and serve the Iraqi people and must be allowed to operate.”

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