Iraq’s cleric Muqtada al-Sadr reverses decision, says will participate in election

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Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said on Friday that he will take part in an October general election, reversing his decision last month.

He said in a televised address he received a document from a few “trusted” political leaders that said they are seeking reform in the country to save Iraq from corruption and those who only seek power and money at the expense of the people.

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“The reformist document must be a pact between the signatory blocs and the beloved people, with a specific time limit without the involvement of the corrupt,” al-Sadr added.

“The document was in line with our aspirations and the reformist aspirations of the people. Therefore, the return to the reformist electoral project has become acceptable.”

Sadr, who commands a loyal following of millions of Iraqis, is one of the most powerful political leaders in Iraq and has grown his influence over state institutions in recent years.

His bloc is part of a coalition that holds the most seats in parliament now, and is likely to be one of the frontrunners in the vote, which was called early by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi as a response to popular protests from 2019.

Sadr loyalists hold official posts with control of a large portion of the country's wealth and patronage networks. Detractors accuse Sadr and his supporters, like other Iraqi parties, of being involved in corruption within state institutions - a charge Sadrists reject.

Sadr, an unpredictable and wily political operator, opposes the presence of US troops, of which some 2,500 remain in Iraq, and rejects the influence of neighboring Iran - a position at odds with many rival Shia politicians and armed groups who are loyal to Tehran.

With Reuters

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