Iraqi cleric al-Sadr calls for early election

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Populist Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Monday called on Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi to announce early parliamentary elections overseen by the United Nations and without the participation of existing political parties.

Al-Sadr’s bloc, Saeroon, which came first in a 2018 election and helped bring Abdul Mahdi’s fragile coalition government to power, said on Saturday it was going into opposition until the demands of anti-government protesters were met.

On Sunday, four Iraqi parliamentarians resigned in anger at the government’s perceived failure to respond to mass protests, piling more pressure on embattled Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi.

Saeroon on Saturday announced an open-ended sit-in to show support for protests.

Five protesters were killed on Monday in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, a rights commission said, bringing the total death toll nationwide since anti-government rallies erupted this month to nearly 240.

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