Maliki accused of provoking supporters in violent demonstrations

An injured man is assisted after reacting to tear gas fired by security forces during a protest by followers of influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Nouri al-Maliki – the Secretary-General of the Dawa party – has been accused of encouraging his followers to take up arms and suppress the recent demonstrations calling for political reform.

Faeq al-Sheikh, member of the parliamentary legal committee, said Maliki, would benefit the most if the current election commission and its laws remained in place.

Five demonstrators have died during the demonstrations – four killed after they were shot, and scores more have been injured – most of whom were treated for choking on tear gas.

Controversial cleric Moqtada al-Sadr also believes the electoral commission is favorable to the former Prime Minister Maliki – who has close ties to Iran.

Sadr also blames Maliki for the failure of the Iraqi army to prevent the advance of ISIS in 2014, as he was prime minister and commander of the armed forces at the time.

Meanwhile the parliamentary committee of experts, headed by Aram Sheikh, Iraq’s deputy parliament speaker, said his panel was going to form a new electoral commission. He said the committee was set to discuss the selections of the independent electoral commission’s members.

The committee’s statement reported that it has approved the required standards and regulations for the candidates to choose new members.

The committee’s members announced that they have also prepared a special form for the candidates and it will be put forward in the next few days to open the door for submissions. In the coming meetings of the committee, they will set the date and deadline for submissions and the selection of new members.

Sadr, called upon his supporters to remain calm. He warned them against taking violent action. The reformists’ alliance say 8 people were killed in the demonstrations near the Green Zone protest on Saturday.

They blamed the government for the incident and vowed to continue their demonstrations.

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