Iraq court says cannot dissolve parliament

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Iraq's top court has ruled it cannot dissolve parliament, a key demand by powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his millions of followers and an important sticking point in a power struggle that caused bloody clashes in Baghdad last month.

The Federal Supreme Court said in a statement parliament must dissolve itself if it is deemed to have not performed its duties.

Iraq's parliament is a powerful body that chooses a president and prime minister and must approve all laws.

A political crisis in Iraq that began after an election in October brought violence onto the streets with the worst clashes the country has had in years.

Armed supporters of Sadr exchanged machine gun and rocket fire with government forces and militant groups backed by Iran at the end of August after Sadr quit politics and let protesters storm government buildings.

Sadr was the biggest winner from the October vote but withdrew all his MPs, nearly a quarter of parliament, in June and resorted to whipping up street protests after his movement failed to form a government.

The cleric's opponents, mostly Iran-aligned parties with armed wings, have tried but also failed to form a government in the face of the protests and unrest.