Mohammed Shia al-Sudani was formally appointed to lead the country on Monday by the Coordinating Structure, the largest Shiite alliance in the Iraqi parliament.
His nomination follows the mass resignation of al-Sadr’s parliamentary bloc, a group of more than 70 lawmakers who withdrew from the governing body last month in a clear show of strength after months of political deadlock.
“If the Sadrov bloc remains [in parliament] is an obstacle to the formation of a government, then all the deputies of the bloc are ready to leave parliament with honor,” Sadr said in a televised speech in June.
The cleric, who positions himself against both Iran and the United States, is very popular. The success of his bloc in the October elections jeopardized the Iranian-linked Shia blocs that have long dominated politics in the oil-rich country.
On Wednesday, al-Sadr told protesters outside the parliament building that their “message” had been received and that they should return home.
“Reform revolution and rejection of injustice and corruption. Your message has been received. You scared the corrupt. Pray and return home safely,” he tweeted.
The outgoing government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi also issued a statement calling on Sadrist protesters to “leave the Green Zone immediately”, preserve public and private property, and abide by the instructions of the security forces.
“The security forces will be committed to protecting state institutions and international missions, as well as preventing any breach of security and order,” al-Qadimi added.