Anti-US cleric sharply criticizes Iraqi gov't

Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr sharply criticized Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government on Sunday and once again demanded that all foreign troops leave the country. Al-Sadr's criticism comes at a time when relations between his Sadrist movement and al-Maliki's coalition government he supports are at a low ebb, with the prime minister coming under mounting pressure to end his alliance with the radical Shi'ite cleric. Lawmakers Cabinet ministers loyal to al-Sadr are boycotting the government and parliament to protest the government's recent summit with US President George W. Bush. They have said they will not lift their boycott until a timetable is announced for the withdrawal of US-led forces from Iraq. Al-Maliki, himself a Shi'ite, criticized the Sadrists for their action, saying it is disloyal to the governing coalition.