Popular Shiite cleric, Moqtada Sadr, has said that he supports an early election in Iraq and recommended that the United Nations monitors it.
Sadr made this startling remarks on Wednesday during a press conference aside his home in Iraqi shrine city of Najaf, a development many tagged as strange.
The Shiite cleric who appeared wearing a surgical mask and traditional clerical robes, said any attempt to delay the election spells doom for the country.
Iraq is meant to hold early parliamentary elections this year, a central demand of an anti-government protest movement which erupted in 2019 and involved Sadr’s supporters.
After several months to prepare for the elections that was initially set for June, the Iraqi government have since pushed it back to October.
While warning that rival parties would try to rig the vote, Sadr cautioned that “delaying the elections would be a disaster for Iraq. I don’t want fraud. That’s why I’m asking for UN intervention and supervision.”
The elections will be taking place under a new electoral law that has reduced the size of constituencies and eliminated list-based voting in favour of votes for individual candidates.
The new system functions in a way that it favours the supporters of the Iraqi cleric more.
Sadr had, in November, vowed to push for the next Iraqi Prime Minister to be a part of his movement for the first time.
On Tuesday, leading Sadrist lawmaker, Hakim al-Zameli, spoke in line with the Shiite cleric, Sadr in a televised interview.
“If the premiership goes to any party other than the Sadrist movement, it means the elections are rigged,” he said.
His comments came a day after Sadr supporters equipped with heavy weapons took to the streets of Najaf and other cities, including Baghdad. They stood guard along major highways in a show of force lasting a few hours.