Iraqi cleric Sadr announces disarmament initiative
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a nationwide disarmament campaign and announced his Baghdad stronghold would be first to disarm just two days after an ammunitions cache exploded there and killed 18 people.
Sadr, whose political bloc won Iraq’s parliamentary election in May, called on all armed groups to hand in their weapons to the government and declared Baghdad’s Sadr City district would be a weapons-free area later this month.
“Everyone must obey the orders and not stand in the way of this initiative. Everyone should hand over their weapons without any discussion because the blood of Iraqis is more valuable to us than anything else,” he told his supporters in a statement.
The Interior Ministry released a statement thanking Sadr for his announcement.
Sadr, a nationalist who opposes the involvement of both the United States and Iran, scored a surprise victory in the May 12 vote by promising to fight corruption and improve services.
Parliament passed a law ordering a nationwide manual recount of votes in the election, after Abadi cited serious violations.
Sadr stressed that the disarmament campaign should be directed at all armed groups and warned that his followers must not be its sole target.
“The Sadrist bloc must not be targeted using this initiative or else there will be negative consequences,” Sadr said.