UPDATES WITH SAIROON'S RESPONSE
By Amer al-Hassani
BAGHDAD (AA) - Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday called on the political bloc he leads, Sairoon, to suspend its activities in the parliament until the government responds to demands of protesters, said a statement on Friday.
"Hurry to suspend your membership without delay," he said in a statement addressing the bloc which holds the majority of the parliament.
Al-Sadr asked the lawmakers of the bloc not to attend any parliamentary sessions until the government issues a reform program the people would accept.
Sairoon block secured majority in the parliament with 54 seats out of 329 in the country's parliamentary polls held in 2018.
Following al-Sadr's remarks, Sairoon announced suspending its activities in the parliament.
At least 42 people have been killed and some 2,500 others injured since the anti-government protests erupted throughout Iraq on Tuesday.
Protesters have been demanding improvement in living conditions and an end to corruption. Security forces have reportedly opened fire on protesters to disperse them, causing mass casualties.
* Writing by Mahmoud Barakat