Tuesday, August 14, 2007
(Al-Sharqiyah television) - Lawmakers affiliated with Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr denied reports that they intend to withdraw from the Iraqi government, Al-Sharqiyah television reported on August 12. Some confusion over the lawmakers' stance arose after an aide to al-Sadr, Ahmad al-Sharifi, called a press conference on August 11 claiming that politicians affiliated with al-Sadr decided to boycott the political process.
Al-Sharifi also said that the members of parliament loyal to al-Sadr are illegitimate representatives of the al-Sadr movement. He then announced the formation of a political council that he claimed would represent the al-Sadr movement. Later the same day, several of the al-Sadr lawmakers called a press conference in Baghdad to deny al-Sharifi's claims. Lawmaker Falah Hasan Shanshal told reporters that al-Sadr continues to support the original political council, adding that the cleric did not give al-Sharifi the go-ahead to form a new council.
Political council member Abd al-Mahdi al-Mutayri told reporters that the lawmakers are the sole representatives of the al-Sadr movement in the Iraqi political arena, and that they have no intention of withdrawing their participation in the government. Six al-Sadr loyalists resigned from cabinet positions earlier this year. Aides to the Shi'ite cleric have said they plan to attend the political summit in Baghdad this week.