Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has announced his intention to participate in upcoming general elections, reversing a previous decision.
Sadr said in a televised address on Friday that he and his supporters “will enter these elections with vigor and determination, in order to save Iraq from occupation and corruption.”
The early elections, a key demand of the demonstrators who staged anti-government protests in 2019, is scheduled for October 10. Sadr’s bloc is part of an alliance that holds the most seats in parliament now, and is likely to be one of the front-runners in the upcoming vote.
Sadr said he changed his earlier decision after a number of political leaders wrote to him about a “charter for reform” to rid Iraq of corruption and mismanagement. He did not mention names. He also called on his supporters to head to the polls and vote in the forthcoming elections, noting that a vote for his movement would mean an Iraq liberated from foreign meddling and rampant graft.
Last month, Sadr had said he would not participate in the parliamentary elections, and withheld his support for the current government and said he would not back the one that would be elected next either.
The upcoming parliamentary vote will be held under a new electoral law that reduces the size of constituencies and eliminates list-based voting in favor of votes for individual candidates.
Sadr’s political bloc emerged as the biggest in the 2018 parliamentary elections. Last year, Sadr said he wanted the next prime minister to be a member of his party for the first time.