Sadrist leader: Iraq’s unity threatened by lack of minority quota

Baghdad – The absence of a clause that defines the quota of minorities in provincial councils is a threat to Iraq’s national unity, the leader of the Sadrist bloc said on Tuesday.

‘Minorities should be given their rights in the provincial councils to contribute to the building of the Iraqi state,’ Aqeel Abdel-Hussein told the Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency.

Abdel-Hussein described the demands made by Iraq’s minorities to have a quota in provincial councils as ‘legitimate.’

Sadrists are a Shiite group loyal to the radical Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr.

The group hostile to the United States and the government of Premier Nuri al-Maliki formed the al-Mahdi Army in Iraq’s southern cities where they are most popular.

After years of bloody clashes with the Iraqi forces, the two parties signed an agreement earlier this year.

It was believed that the agreement had played a significant role in reducing the violence in Iraq.

More than 5,000 Iraqi Christians demonstrated in the country’s Nineveh province at the weekend to protest the absence of a clause in the new elections law that would have stipulated a quota of provincial council seats for Christians.

Parliament’s decision to remove Article 50, which specifies a quota for minorities in provincial councils, has sparked a heated reaction from several political blocs representing the country’s Christians and other minorities.

Al-Maliki expressed his concerns on Sunday about the removal of the disputed article.

In a statement released by the premier’s office, al-Maliki called on parliament and the Iraqi High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to remove all the concerns, injustice and the sense of exclusion felt by some segments of Iraqi society.

In separate developments, the US military announced the death of one of its soldiers when his patrol came under attack in north Baghdad on Monday.

His death brings the number of US troops who died in September to 24.

Some 4,175 US soldiers have died since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003