Bloc Loyal to Radical Shiite Muqtada al-Sadr Cleric Ends Boycott of Iraqi Parliament

Lawmakers loyal to anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Tuesday they are ending a nearly five-week boycott of parliament sessions after officials accepted their demands for rebuilding a Shiite shrine damaged by bombings.

Boycotts by the al-Sadr bloc and the main Sunni faction have stalled work on major "benchmark" legislation demanded by the United States.

Nassar al-Rubaie, head of the 30-member bloc, told The Associated Press that "we have suspended our boycott as of today after all our demands were met and the parliament voted on them."

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Al-Sadr's followers walked out of parliament last month over the government's inability to restore a major shrine in Samarra which has been bombed twice — once in February 2006 and again last month.

The Sadrists said they would return if the government developed a plan to rebuild the shrine and secure the road from Baghdad to the city, which passes through Sunni insurgent areas.

Acting Parliament Speaker Khaled al-Attiya said "we welcome the return of the Sadrists bloc to the parliament to resume their work."

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