AFP reports: Powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, leader of a major political movement and a key figure in post-Saddam Iraq, has announced his exit from politics two months before elections.
The decision, if confirmed as permanent, brings to a close a political career that began with his fierce opposition to the US military presence in Iraq, and has spanned more than a decade.
“I announce my non-intervention in all political affairs and that there is no bloc that represents us from now on, nor any position inside or outside the government nor parliament,” Sadr said in a written statement received by AFP on Sunday.
Ahead of legislative elections in April, Sadr’s movement currently holds six cabinet posts as well as 40 seats in the 325-member parliament.
He also said his movement’s political offices will be closed, but that others related to social welfare, media and education will remain open.
It was not immediately clear if the move was temporary or permanent, with Sadrist officials saying they had been taken by surprise and could not clarify. [Continue reading…]