Hundreds of supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone and some entered the Iraqi parliament building after lawmakers failed to convene for a vote on overhauling the government.
The protesters, who had gathered outside the heavily fortified district housing government buildings and foreign embassies, crossed a bridge over the Tigris River on Saturday chanting, “The cowards ran away!” in apparent reference to lawmakers leaving parliament, a witnesses told Reuters.
Rioters rampaged through several parts of the parliament building while other protesters shouted “peacefully, peacefully” and tried to contain the destruction, AFP reported.
The parliament has been in disarray over the last month as politicians have failed to agree on a cabinet reshuffle proposed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Earlier this week parliament approved a partial reshuffle, bowing to mounting public pressure for reform.
Sadr has led mass protests in support of Abadi’s planned reshuffle, which would hand key portfolios to independent technocrats in a bid to root out patronage and corruption.
Thousands of followers of the influential cleric have been holding a sit-in in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square.
Shia cleric Moqtada al-SadrSadr has led mass protests in support of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s planned reshuffle [Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters]