In a reversal of his decision to boycott the upcoming general elections, Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadr movement and the Sairoon Bloc, announced that his bloc will compete in the elections slated to take place on October 10.
Sadr, who has a devoted following of Iraqi Shia Muslims from poorer socio-economic backgrounds, had announced on July 15 that he would withdraw from the elections and refuse to back any consequent government.
The decision came after two ministries affiliated with Sadr’s political bloc became involved in political controversies which resulted in their resignation.
The Minister of Health, Hassan al-Tamimi, had resigned over his mishandling of a fire at a Baghdad COVID-19 hospital that killed at least 80 people and wounded dozens.
The Minister of Electricity, Majid Mahdi Hantoush, was also forced to resign after prolonged electricity outages across the country during a record-breaking heatwave raised concerns about the functioning of the ministry.
During an address to his followers where Sadr declared the decision to return to the elections, he said the conditions under which the elections would take place were “acceptable”.
“I received guarantees from political leaders and groups that those who engaged in corruption would not run in elections.” he continued.
“We will participate in the elections with great ambition and persistence. We will save Iraq from corruption and occupation,” he stated.
Sadr’s turnabout follows a meeting between former PM Nouri al-Maliki and the President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party Masoud Barzani in Erbil early last week. At the meeting, the duo professed their joint commitment in realizing the October 10 elections.
Similarly, the spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shia community, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, remained adamant about organizing the elections on time. He had previously said he “fully supported” the decision to hold early elections.