Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued an ultimatum to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to disband his Mehdi Army or be excluded from upcoming elections in October, following fierce fighting on Sunday in Baghdad's Green Zone. Lucas Menget reports.
Maliki’s ultimatum will heighten tensions with Sadr’s movement and the Mehdi Army, which fought pitched battles with Iraqi security forces for six days late last month in violence that killed hundreds of people.
“A decision was taken ... that they no longer have a right to participate in the political process or take part in the upcoming elections unless they end the Mehdi Army,” Maliki said in an interview with CNN, according to a report posted on the network’s website.
Provincial elections are due by October.
The statement, agreed by a body comprising the president, the two vice presidents, Maliki, and the heads of political blocs, was seen as an attempt to isolate the populist cleric, who has a wide following among poor, urban Shi’ites.
Sadr’s movement was the only bloc to reject the statement.
Fresh fighting between security forces and gunmen erupted in Sadr’s stronghold in
Date created : 2008-04-07