Key Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr spoke today before a crowd of some 200,000 demonstrators outside Baghdad’s Green Zone, demanding the ouster of the Abadi government, and the fulfillment of previous pledges to tackle corruption.
Sadr is an influential religious leader, as well as the leader of Iraq’s second largest political bloc, which holds 34 seats in parliament. With Abadi already under fire by a number of other factions, this adds pressure for him to step down, potentially leading to new elections.
A top Sadr aide, also speaking at the rally, accused Abadi of dragging his feet on reforms, with a promise to replace certain political officials with technocrats going unfulfilled. He warned the public wasn’t going ro keep accepting promises that don’t lead to reforms.
This is the second week in a row Sadr supporters have organized a major rally. Last week’s saw 100,000 people, and the significant growth of this week’s crowd suggests that calls for reform are a winning issue for Sadr, and will likely oblige Abadi to make some sort of move to placate the public.
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