Sadr urges neighboring countries not to intervene in Iraqi elections

‘Elections are the last chance for change,’ the Shiite religious leader said

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Powerful Shiite religious figure Muqtada al-Sadr urged Iraqis to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections and called on neighboring states not to intervene in a televised speech aired Saturday.

“Elections are the last chance for change,” Sadr, who quit politics in February said, describing the polling stations as “holy places that shouldn’t be violated.”


Infographic: Who is Moqtada al-Sadr?

Infographic: Who is Moqtada al-Sadr?
Infographic: Who is Moqtada al-Sadr?

He also urged the Independent High Electoral Commission to be fully independent and transparent, and for all competing political blocs to accept elections’ results.

While the elections are scheduled to take place on April 30, Sadr already congratulated Iraqis “for winning against oppressors.”

He added: “The voices of the suppressed are louder than the oppressors.”

Quitting the game

Sadr quit politics after citing dire corruption in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s administration, but maintains a movement which is represented by the Ahrar Coalition.

The Ahrar bloc has 40 seats in the 325-member parliament.

The outspoken Sadr, who has called Maliki a “dictator,” is increasingly promoting Iraqi nationalism.

On April 21, Iraqi media reported Sadr dismissing claims that he will bow to Iranian pressure and go back into politics so he could back Maliki.

According to observers, Iran seeks Iraqi Shiites to form an alliance especially in case no political bloc wins by majority.

In 2010 elections, head of the former secular yet Sunni Iraqiya List Ayad Allawi won by one seat in comparison to Maliki’s bloc. But the premier managed to form alliance with other Shiite blocs and was declared victor.

Observers blamed outside intervention especially Iranian interference in changing the natural outcome of the elections.

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