Al-Sadr appeals for solution to Iraq's political crisis

An influential Iraqi Shiite cleric has called on the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Countries to help find a solution to the country's simmering political crisis "even through holding early elections."

In a handwritten statement issued on Wednesday, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, ordered Sadrist lawmakers to withdraw from a parliament sit-in that demands the country's top leadership — parliament speaker, prime minister and president — step down.

But al-Sadr called on his followers to continue rallying in Bagdad's Tahrir Square to pressure the parliament to vote on a new government after a recent Cabinet reshuffle.

The statement came a day after lawmakers failed to hold a session to vote on whether to keep or oust the parliament speaker, threatening to prolong Iraq's paralyzing political crisis.