Baghdad, Aug 31 (IANS): Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi expressed regret that the political conflict had reached the level of the use of weapons among Iraqi factions, warning that he would declare his post vacant if the dispute continued.
In a televised speech late Tuesday, al-Kadhimi said that he was overwhelmed with pain by the political conflict, "the Iraqi blood that was shed yesterday sends a warning to every Iraqi that today we must put weapons under the authority of the state", reports Xinhua news agency
"I warn that if chaos, conflict, discord, and hostility continue and the voice of reason is not heard, I will take my moral and patriotic step to declare the position of (Prime Minister) vacant in due course... and holding them (conflicting parties) the responsibility before the Iraqis and before history," he said.
He said that Iraq has been bleeding for many years as thousands of Iraqis were killed, stressing that "every drop of blood is caused by chronic political failure".
Earlier in the day, President Barham Salih also said in a televised speech that "going to early elections under a national understanding represents a way out of the stifling crisis in the country instead of political dispute or clash".
He also called on the Shiite Coordination Framework (CF), an umbrella group of Shia parliamentary parties, to communicate with the leader of the Sadrist Movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, to come up with a political solution that addresses the issue of the new elections and the formation of a new government.
On Tuesday, al-Sadr called on his followers to end their protests and withdraw from the Green Zone in Baghdad, after clashes killed 22 people and wounded more than 200 others.
At a televised press conference in the city of Najaf, al-Sadr apologised to the Iraqi people affected by the violence, stressing that he was hoping for peaceful protests, "not bullets and bombs".
He called on his followers to "withdraw in 60 minutes", including from the sit-in in front of Parliament, or he "will not recognize them".
On Monday, al-Sadr's supporters stormed some of the main government headquarters in the Green Zone following their leader's announcement that he was quitting politics in protest against the corruption of political parties in the country.
Political tensions in Iraq have escalated in the past weeks between al-Sadr and his rivals in the CF.
On July 30, al-Sadr's followers broke into the Green Zone and held an open sit-in in and outside Parliament, demanding the dissolution of the parliament and holding early elections, which are rejected by the CF parties.
The CF became the largest alliance in Parliament after al-Sadr ordered his followers in the Sadrist Movement, the biggest winner of the October 2021 elections with 73 seats, to withdraw.
During the past months, the continued disputes among the Shia parties have hampered the formation of a new government, making it unable to elect a new President by a two-thirds majority of the 329-seat Parliament under the constitution.