Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called on his supporters to join thousands of others who have camped at the parliament to prevent the formation of a new government.
In a message released on Sunday, Sadr -- who seeks to curb the influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Iraqi politics -- urged his followers, including tribal leaders and paramilitary forces, to join his cause, saying now is the best time to change the political system and constitution.
“This is a great chance for radical change to the political system. Don’t miss your chance,” he said.
Protesting against corruption and political mismanagement, hundreds of followers of Sadr occupied the country's parliament on Saturday after mounting concrete barricades on roads leading to Baghdad’s Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies.
At least sixty protesters were injured in clashes with security forces, according to the Iraqi Health Ministry.
The protesters stressed the need for an independent government in Baghdad, emphasizing that they do not want an Iranian-linked government or a subordinate one.
It was the largest protest since the federal elections and the second time al-Sadr has used his ability to mobilize the masses to send a message to his political rivals this month,and renewed his call to dismantle outlaw armed factions, referring to the Iran-backed Shiite militia Hashd al-Shaabi, which was led by former Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis before he was killed alongside Qasem Soleimani in January 2020 by a US drone strike.