Lawmakers Loyal to Muqtada Al-Sadr Suspend Their Membership in Parliament

The 30-member bloc loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr suspended its membership in parliament Wednesday, saying they will stay away from the 275-seat house until the government takes "realistic" steps to rebuild the Askariya shrine bombed earlier in the day.

The suspension, announced in a statement by the bloc, is likely to weaken Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government and delay the adoption of a series of laws needed to build national reconciliation to reduce violence in Iraq.

The statement also called for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Samarra, site of the bombed Askariya shrine, and secure roads to the city, 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad.

"The Sadrist bloc declares the suspension of its membership in the Iraqi Council of Representatives (parliament) until the government takes realistic measures to rebuild Shiite and Sunni mosques, foremost of which the Askariya shrine," said the statement.

Complete coverage is available in's Iraq Center.