Iraq's Shiite leader al-Sadr 'quits' politics

He also said that all his offices would be closed

He also said that all his offices would be closed "either at the religious, social or political levels." However, he said, his satellite channel Al-Adwaa and a Quran radio station would keep open.

By Ahmed al-Masri and Muayad al-Tarafi

BAGHDAD - Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has announced that he is quitting politics and that all his offices across the country would be shut down permanently.

"I announce that I would not intervene in politics, and that there is no [parliamentary] bloc representing us, neither any official post in or outside the government or the parliament," al-Sadr said in an online statement.

He also said that all his offices would be closed "either at the religious, social or political levels." However, he said, his satellite channel Al-Adwaa and a Quran radio station would remain open.

In his statement, he attributed his decision to "preserve al-Sadr family's reputation…and to avoid any sedition…inside or outside Iraq," without elaborating further.

The decision came also "as a way to help end the people's suffering and quit the boundaries of politics and politicians," the statement added.

The statement came on the heels of protests over a new law passed by the Iraqi parliament to raise retirement benefits for civil servants, with demonstrators accusing the lawmakers and top officials of using the legislation to secure lucrative privileges for themselves. Al-Sadr's parliamentary bloc had voted in favor of the controversial law.

-Six al-Sadr-affiliated MPs resign in Iraq

Six Iraqi lawmakers from the bloc affiliated with al-Sadr announced Sunday they have resigned and will quit politics following the footsteps of the Shiite leader.

The six MPs announced their decisions separately in a string of press conferences at the Iraqi parliament headquarters in Baghdad, declaring that they are withdrawing from political life in solidarity with the firebrand cleric.

The six parliamentarians announced they will not attend future parliament sessions and they will not run for the upcoming parliament elections as planned.

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