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Iraqi Cleric Calls For Protests, Global Intervention To Force Reforms

Prominent Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for renewed protests and global intervention after reform efforts stalled again.

Iraq's influential Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for renewed protests and international intervention after powerful factions in parliament once against blocked a government reform effort.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been seeking to overhaul the government and rid it of corruption, having offered a new cabinet of technocrats earlier this month to replace officials who obtained their positions through political patronage.

But entrenched interests have used parliamentary tactics to block those and other changes, delaying installation of the new government past a deadline of April 19 laid down by the cleric.

That led Sadr on April 20 to call for "continuing peaceful protests in the same intensity and even pressure the politicians and the lovers of corruption."

He also warned Abadi not to restrict a resumption of protests in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. "Nobody has the right to stop it, otherwise the revolution will take another turn," he said.

And Sadr appealed for international aid.

"We call upon the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the United Nations to interfere to get the Iraqi people out of their ordeal and to correct the political process, even through holding early elections."

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP