Baghdad- Head of the Sadrist Movement, Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on the authorities Friday to seize the arsenals of all armed groups, adding that the government is the sole entity assigned to maintain security and possess arms.
In a speech broadcasted on huge screens, Sadr urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to dismantle Hashd al-Shaabi and “integrate into the army the disciplined members” of the paramilitary force, an AFP reporter said.
“The Hashd al-Shaabi should function under the command of the state. And weapons should be in the hands of the state too,” he said.
Al-Sadr added that “al-Abadi is bound to continue the steady and positive trend to remove the ghost of terrorism.”
Last December, Iraq’s president signed into law a bill that was passed by the parliament in November recognizing the Shi’ite paramilitary as an official force with similar rights as the regular army.
Many Iraqi Sunni MPs and leaders oppose the existence of the Hashd group and say it is replacing the Iraqi army.
The influential Iraqi Shi’ite cleric also called on amending the electoral law and elections’ commissions in a way that secures the rights of all political parties operating in the country.
He said the Iraqi people should stand up to corrupt parties.
The cleric also called on the prime minister to respect the election date in all governorates, even the liberated ones, without differentiating between the Shi’ite and the Sunni areas.
Sadr also said minorities should be given a chance in the next elections.
Earlier, Sadr had threatened to boycott next year’s elections in case the law is not changed.
Sadr’s speech in Baghdad came after his visit over the weekend to Saudi Arabia, where he met with the Saudi crown prince.