NAJAF: Powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr opposes toppling the Iraqi government, but discussed not renewing the premier’s mandate during a visit to Kurdistan, Sadr Movement officials said on Friday.
Sadr arrived in the autonomous Kurdistan region on Thursday, presenting himself as a mediator in a crisis between Kurdistan President Massud Barzani and Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki.
“Moqtada Al Sadr discussed a number of issues during his visit to the Kurdistan region, among them not renewing (the mandate of) Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki,” who is currently in his second term as premier, said Dhia Al Assadi, the secretary general of Sadr’s Al Ahrar parliamentary bloc.
Sadr emphasised the neutrality of his movement, and “called for supporting the current government and not overthrowing it, on the condition that all Iraqis should participate in it,” said Assadi.
And he “emphasised the main ideology of the Sadr Movement, which is based on the necessity of providing services to Iraqis and taking care of Iraqis, and that Iraq’s wealth be for all Iraqis,” Assadi said.
Other issues discussed included “the problem between the head of the (Kurdistan) region and the federal government and the other political problems.”
Another high-ranking Sadr Movement official confirmed that Sadr had discussed not renewing Maliki’s mandate, but said there was no agreement on the issue, as it requires a law to be approved by parliament.
“The prime minister already announced on more than one occasion his intention to not be a candidate for a third term and called for limiting the mandate of the prime minister to two terms,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Maliki said in a 2011 interview with AFP that he would not seek a third term, and that he supported constitutionally limiting the premier to two terms.
He first took office in 2006, and gained another term as premier in 2010 after over nine months of political deadlock and wrangling that followed inconclusive parliamentary polls.
His second term expires in 2014.
WOMAN, KIDS SHOT
A Sunni mother and her three children were shot dead in an apparent sectarian attack in a village in central Iraq, after twin bombings killed eight people, mostly Shiites, police said on Friday.
“Unknown gunmen broke into a house in the village of Abu Garma and killed a 45-year-old woman and her three children,” who were between 10 and 15 years old, Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Al Karkhi said.
The attack with silenced weapons probably occurred between 3:00 and 4:00am on Friday, he said, adding the bodies were found about 9:00am by a family member.
A police lieutenant colonel involved in the investigation said the attack might have a sectarian motive, and could lead to further violence.
“Most of those killed in the two attacks yesterday (Thursday) were Shiite, and the family killed later was Sunni,” he said. “It seems like a sectarian incident, and there is a risk that it might lead to more sectarian violence in the area.”
Karkhi said a suicide car bombing near a cafe in Abu Garma on Thursday followed by another bombing inside it as the casualties were being carried out killed eight people and wounded 18 others.
An interior ministry official and a local police officer said a suicide car bomber set off the first explosion outside the packed cafe. A few minutes later, another bomb went off inside the cafe, they said.