Influential Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the head of Iraq’s largest political bloc, is betting big on Prime Minister-designate Mohammad Allawi, endorsing him and calling for an end to protests despite a lot of his supporters opposing that view.
Sadr is warning Allawi, however, that he’d better make things good, and needs to start by forming a new cabinet with only independent ministers. Allawi must submit a new cabinet by March 2.
Sadr said that if Allawi included any “political elite” in the cabinet, he’d face an immediate, and losing, vote of no-confidence and be removed from office outright. Sadr has long encouraged officials to stake out independent positions, and said no Shi’ite militia blocs must get ministries in the cabinet.
These demands are roughly in line with some of the bare minimum demands of Iraqi anti-government protesters. In presenting them, ultimatum-style, Sadr may be attempting to avoid losing any further support from the protest movement by at least giving lip-service to their positions.
This may be too little, too late for Sadr, however, as last week his supporters attacked and burned a protest camp in Najaf, and that has more or less ended any pretense of him remaining on the side of the protest movement.