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Thousands of Iraqis March in Support of Radical Cleric


Thousands of people in central and southern Iraq have staged demonstrations supporting radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and protesting the lack of basic government services.

Carrying Iraqi flags, banners with pictures of Mr. al-Sadr, and signs protesting U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, demonstrators in at least five cities Friday demanded that Baghdad improve water and electrical service. Many protesters voiced support for Mr. al-Sadr's opposition to the draft constitution currently being negotiated in the Iraqi capital.

Mr. al-Sadr has come out in support of Sunni opposition to the federal state Shi'ite leaders support. Earlier this week, his supporters clashed with Shi'ite rivals as the cleric's backers attempted to reopen their offices in the holy city of Najaf.

Mr. al-Sadr, who led two uprisings against U.S.-led forces last year, has appealed for his followers to demonstrate peacefully against the government and demand improvements in basic services.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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