Iraq: Protesters camp outside top court, judiciary suspended

Iraq: Protesters camp outside top court, judiciary suspended
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The Supreme Judicial Council and Federal Supreme Court suspended activities in Baghdad as Sadr supporters launched an indefinite sit-in in front of the top court’s building.

Iraq was engulfed into yet another crisis as the country’s top court suspended all activities citing security reasons after supporters of a shiite sect camped outside its buildings demanding the court to dissolve the national assembly.

Supporters of the Shiite Muslim Sadr movement began gathering on Tuesday morning for protests outside the headquarters of the Supreme Judicial Council and Federal Supreme Court in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, starting an open-ended sit-in to demand the dissolution of the National Assembly, blaming the judiciary for politicization in favor of the Coordination Framework, an alliance of Iran-backed parties and Sadr’s Shiite rivals.

The judiciary said in a statement they received threats by phone. 

"(We) will suspend court sessions as a protest against this unconstitutional behavior and will hold the government and political parties which are backing this move fully responsible for all the results," the statement said.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi interrupted his visit to Egypt and returned to the country. 

"Disrupting the judiciary's work exposes the country to real dangers," Kadhimi said. 

The Sadr movement, named after the powerful cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, came first in the October parliamentary elections but failed to form a majority government with Kurdish and Sunni Muslim Arab parties, leading to the worst political crises in Iraq since the US invasion. 

Caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi last week called a meeting of senior political leaders and party representatives to find a solution, but Sadr’s party did not attend, choosing to fuel protests demanding a dissolution of parliament and early parliamentary elections.