Iraqi cleric suspends anti-corruption protests

By Ibrahim Salih

BAGHDAD (AA) – Iraq’s firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Saturday called on supporters to suspend anti-corruption protests for one month.

In a statement, al-Sadr said that the one-month suspension aims to “give room for taking reformatory steps”.

He, however, vowed to press ahead with calls for introducing reforms in Iraq.

For the past five months, al-Sadr’s supporters have been staging protests to demand that Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi replace his cabinet with a team of independent “technocrats” mandated with fighting government graft.

Ghaleb al-Zamili, a member of al-Sadr’s Ahrar bloc in the Iraqi parliament, said the suspension aims to “expose blocs claiming to be supporting reforms”.

“This decision will embarrass these blocs and show how much they are committed to take to the streets to press for reform,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Iraq ranks 161st out of 168 countries on Transparency International’s “corruption perceptions index”.