The Supreme Council of Justice (SCJ) and the Federal Court of Iraq suspended their work on Tuesday in protest against the continuous "pressures", "threats" and protests by the followers of Shiite religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr, leaving the country without judicial power, with a paralysed parliament and a government in office.
The decision was taken after followers of the Sadrist movement gathered today in front of the JSC headquarters, where they set up tents, as part of their "pressure" for the judiciary to decide to dissolve parliament and hold early elections, according to an official statement, according to a statement from the Supreme Council.
The note denounces that some members of the Federal Court "received threatening messages on their mobile phones to put pressure on them".
"The Supreme Council and the Tribunal met in person and online on Tuesday morning and decided to suspend the work of the High Council, the courts affiliated to it and the Federal Court in protest against these unconstitutional acts," the statement said.
In response, Iraq's acting prime minister, Mustafa al-Kazemi, decided to cut short a visit to Egypt and return to Iraq to "follow the situation" and "directly monitor the performance of the security forces in protecting the institutions of the judiciary and the state".
Al Kazemi called on "all political forces to remain calm", and to "seize the opportunity for national dialogue to lead the country out of its current crisis".
Meanwhile, the Coordination Framework, the pro-Iranian-led alliance of Iraqi Shi'ite parties and a rival to al-Sadr's movement, issued a statement today expressing its "rejection of the assassination threats" against members of the judiciary.
The group also "announces its refusal to receive any message from the Sadrist movement or call for direct dialogue, except after ending the occupation of the constitutional institutions of the state and its return to the ranks of the forces that believe in peaceful and democratic solutions".
The populist cleric Al Sadr, whose formation won the last legislative elections, had boycotted the meetings of the various political forces held last week as part of a national dialogue called by Al Kazemi to resolve the country's institutional crisis.
His supporters have been camped out for several weeks in front of parliament to demand early elections, something that several experts on the Iraqi constitution say can only be decided by parliament itself and not by the judiciary.
Iraq has been in political paralysis since last October's parliamentary elections gave victory to the Sadrist Bloc, but with only 73 seats in a chamber of 329.
Al Sadr's movement forged an alliance with other parliamentary forces to elect a president and a prime minister to form a government, but they were unable to vote for them because of a blockade by other forces led by pro-Iranian Shi'ite (Iraq's majority Islamist branch) forces.
Sadrist lawmakers resigned en bloc in June, but with the election of a Shi'ite-nominated president and prime minister imminent, the cleric's supporters occupied parliament on 30 July, although a week later they withdrew from inside and camped outside to demand the dissolution of the House and new elections.