BAGHDAD, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's top officials and political leaders on Wednesday called on loyalists to prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to engage in a national dialogue to break the country's political deadlock.
In a meeting that was attended by Iraqi President Barham Salih, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, and leaders of Iraqi national political forces, participants "expressed their commitment to finding a solution to all crises through dialogue to preserve the unity of Iraq, the security, and stability of its people," read a statement by the media office of the caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
Participants of the meeting also called for an end to all forms of field, media or political escalation and urged al-Sadr's followers in the Sadrist Movement, who have staged sit-in protests, to engage in the national dialogue. Al-Sadr and his followers were absent from Wednesday's meeting.
The leaders agreed to continue the dialogue in order to draw a legal and constitutional roadmap to address the current deadlock.
"Resorting once again to the polls through early elections is not an exceptional event in the history of democratic experiences when political crises reach dead ends," the statement said, referring to the possibility of dissolving the parliament to hold new elections demanded by al-Sadr.
Al-Kadhimi invited the rival political parties to hold a meeting to seek a solution to the political deadlock as disputes escalated in the past weeks between al-Sadr and his rivals from the Coordination Framework (CF), an umbrella group of Shiite parliamentary parties.
On Aug. 3, al-Sadr urged his followers to continue their sit-in protest until their demands to dissolve the parliament and hold early elections are met.
The CF became the largest alliance in the Iraqi parliament after al-Sadr ordered his followers in the Sadrist Movement, the biggest winner of the elections held on Oct. 10, 2021, with 73 seats, to withdraw from the parliament.
During the past months, the continued disputes among the Shiite parties have hampered the formation of a new Iraqi government, making it unable to elect a new president by a two-thirds majority of the 329-seat parliament under the constitution.
If elected, the president will appoint the prime minister nominated by the largest alliance in the parliament, now the CF, to form a new government that would rule the country for the next four years. ■