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Iraqis ignore PM’s vow to quit, continue protests

Security forces try to disperse anti-government protesters during clashes in Najaf, Iraq on November 28, 2019./ File photo

Security forces try to disperse anti-government protesters during clashes in Najaf, Iraq on November 28, 2019./ File photo   | Photo Credit: AP

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Demand complete overhaul of system

Iraqis kept up anti-government protests in Baghdad and the south on Saturday, unsatisfied with the premier’s vowed resignation and insisting on the overhaul of a system they say is corrupt and beholden to foreign powers.

Protesters have hit the streets since early October in the largest grassroots movement Iraq has seen in decades, sparked by fury over poor public services, lack of jobs and endemic government graft..

The decentralised demonstrations were met with violence from security forces and armed groups, leaving more than 420 people dead and 15,000 wounded according to an AFP tally compiled from medics and an Iraqi rights commission.

The toll spiked dramatically this week, when a crackdown by security forces left dozens dead in Baghdad, the Shiite shrine city of Najaf and the southern hotspot of Nasiriyah — the birthplace of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.

Facing pressure from the street and the country’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi announced on Friday that he would submit his resignation to Parliament, due to meet on Sunday.

But demonstrations have not subsided, with crowds in the capital and across the Shiite-majority south sticking to their weeks-long demand of complete regime change. “We’ll keep up this movement,” said one protester in the southern hotspot of Diwaniyah, where thousands turned out early on Saturday.“Abdel Mahdi’s resignation is only the first step, and now all corrupt figures must be removed and judged,” a protester said.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 3:55:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/iraqis-ignore-pms-vow-to-quit-continue-protests/article30125711.ece

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