ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Wednesday said that he will not reach an agreement with political parties calling for a consensus government, claiming that a consensus would mean the end of the country.
“I will not have an agreement with you … for a consensus means the end of the country… no to any form of consensus,” said Sadr in a tweet after the Iraqi parliament failed to meet the legal quorum to elect a new president yet again at least six months after Iraq held early elections.
The Iraqi parliament was scheduled to elect a president on Wednesday. Over a third of MPs boycotted the session, leading to the legislature’s inability to elect a president.
According to information obtained by Rudaw, only 176 MPs attended the Wednesday parliamentary session, falling short of the required 220 MPs.
Footages from Telegram channels affiliated with pro-Iran political parties showed leaders of the Coordination Framework and MPs gathering at the residence of Hadi al-Amiri, head of the Shiite Fatih Alliance, instead of attending the parliamentary session.
MPs of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Azm Alliance, New Generation Movement, and various independents also boycotted the session.
In an address to local media outlets, Amiri called on the tripartite alliance consisting of the Sadrist bloc, KDP, and the Sunni Sovereignty Alliance to shift to dialogue in order to remove Iraq from the current political crisis.
“Our hearts are open and hands are extended to everyone in order to reach a solution for Iraq’s problem,” Amiri said, adding that “there is a good opportunity in front of the tripartite alliance to shift to dialogue in order to solve the current crisis.”
However Sadr refused Amiri’s offer of dialogue.
“What you call a political gridlock, is more moderate than an agreement with you and better than sharing the cake with you, for there is no good in a quota-based consensus government,” Sadr said.
The primary candidates for the presidency are the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) Reber Ahmed, backed by the tripartite alliance, and PUK’s incumbent Barham Salih backed by the Coordination Framework.
While the political stalemate in Iraq is seen to be because of the PUK and the KDP’s disagreement on having a mutual candidate, Shiite parties are also broken into two with the Sadrists calling for a national majority government that would exclude the Coordination Framework, and the framework insisting on a consensus government, a system that Iraq has abided by for years following the US invasion of the country in 2003.
Leader of the State of Law Coalition and key member of the Coordination Framework Nouri al-Maliki released a statement of his own after the parliament failed to convene on Wednesday. Maliki stated that the Coordination Framework and its allies have affirmed the power of “the guaranteed third,” adding that they have prepared an initiative to end the political stalemate and discussions to grow the initiative will begin on Wednesday and Thursday.
Updated at 5:44pm