Muqtada al-Sadr yet to clarify stance on Iraq national dialogue
Iraq’s caretaker prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Wednesday headed a meeting of senior political leaders and party representatives attended by the head of Iraq’s High Judicial Council and UN special representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.
However, Sadr's party, the Sadrist Movement, did not attend the gathering.
After the meeting, the Iraqi government said in a statement that the participants had agreed on dealing with the political crisis through dialogue and constitutional means, and called on the Sadrist Movement to engage in the process.
Talks are expected to resume by Tuesday, but Sadr remains tight-lipped about whether his party will take part.
Sadr and his political rivals, most of whom are Iran-backed Shia groups, have been at odds since last year's parliamentary elections. Sadr won the largest share of seats in the October vote, but failed to form a majority government.
Sadr insists that Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court dissolve parliament and new elections be held. The Coordination Framework, an alliance of Iran-backed parties, insists that parliament would have to convene to dissolve itself.
The cleric last Wednesday gave the judiciary a week to dissolve parliament - but the judiciary said it had no authority to do so.
Sadr's supporters are conducting a sit-in outside parliament to protest the Coordination Framework's nomination of Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani as prime minister.
Last Saturday, Sadr called on his followers to be ready to hold massive protests all over Iraq but then indefinitely postponed them after Iran-backed groups called for similar rallies the same day, saying he wants to preserve peace.
Salih Mohammed al-Iraqi, a prominent Twitter user who is believed to be a senior Sadr loyalist, said on Thursday that the meeting and its outcomes did not serve the interests of the people.
He urged loyalists to continue their sit-in at the parliament, and on Friday said Sadrists still held the trump card in Iraqi politics.