Pro-Sadr protesters storm parliament in Iraq’s Green Zone

BAGHDAD: Supporters of powerful Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr  stormed parliament after penetrating the capital’s high-security government Green Zone, protesting against a rival bloc’s nomination for prime minister.

The protests are the latest challenge for oil-rich Iraq, which remains mired in a political and a socioeconomic crisis despite elevated global oil prices.

Protesters “stormed the parliament” after initially being stopped by police firing a barrage of tear gas, a security source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

State news agency INA said on messaging app Telegram that “protesters have entered the parliament building”.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi called on the protesters to “immediately withdraw” from the heavily fortified Green Zone, which is home to both government buildings and diplomatic missions.

He warned in a statement that security forces would see to “the protection of state institutions and foreign missions, and prevent any harm to security and order”.

An AFP correspondent in the Green Zone had earlier seen protesters carrying a fellow demonstrator who had been hurt.

Sadr’s bloc won 73 seats in Iraq’s October 2021 election, making it the largest faction in the 329-seat parliament. But since the vote, talks to form a new government have stalled.

The protesters oppose the candidacy of Mohammed al-Sudani, a former minister and ex-provincial governor, who is the pro-Iran Coordination Framework’s pick for premier.