Sunday, April 15, 2007

Report: Maliki negotiates cancellation of Basra demonstration

Supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr 'demonstrate' following Friday prayers in Basra on March 23.

Top government officials on Sunday called for the cancellation of a planned demonstration against the governor of the southern province in Basra, citing fears the protest could lead to street fighting between rival Shiite groups in Iraq's second largest city.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki contacted religious and political leaders in Basra and won their promise to cancel the planned protest, his office said in a statement on Sunday.

Leaflets distributed after Friday prayers in Basra called for a peaceful march early Monday to seek Gov. Mohammed al-Waili's resignation. Residents have complained of poor city services.

The leaflets were signed by the previously unknown "Basra Mobs," but residents said the name was a cover for followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia. A dozen people were wounded last month when its fighters clashed with those of the rival Shiite Fadhila party. Al-Waili is a Fadhila member.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune

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