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No let up in anti-government protests in Iraq

Mourners carrying the coffin of a civil activist during the funeral on Wednesday.

Mourners carrying the coffin of a civil activist during the funeral on Wednesday.  

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Demonstrators have been demanding the ouster of the entire political class

Iraqi anti-government protesters again hit the streets on Wednesday, angered by an activist’s death and an attempt on the life of a popular TV satirist.

The latest rallies in Baghdad and cities, including Basra and Karbala, came after a night of unrest that saw protesters torch the headquarters of two pro-Iran militias in the country’s south.

The demonstrators have rallied for almost three months to demand the ouster of the entire political class that has run the oil-rich yet poverty-ridden country in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion which overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein.

The mostly youthful activists accuse Iraq’s leaders of enriching themselves, mismanaging the economy and being beholden to Iran, an influential actor in Iraqi politics.

‘Bid to silence us’

Passions were inflamed when popular TV satirist Aws Fadhil was targeted on Tuesday by unknown assailants, with three bullets hitting his car.

Mr. Fadhil posted footage of the bullet holes on social media and declared: “They are targeting those who support the revolution, to silence them ... But we are continuing our revolution.”

He added that “we have already achieved a goal”, referring to a parliamentary vote on Tuesday to approve an electoral reform law, in line with the demands of the protesters. Lawmakers will from now be elected in first-past-the-post contests within electoral districts, rather than through a complex system using provincial party lists and proportional representation.

Despite the reform steps, protesters again rallied on Wednesday — including in the city of Diwaniyah, where they marched under a large Iraqi flag to mourn a prominent activist, Thaer al-Tayeb.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 7:00:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/no-let-up-in-anti-government-protests-in-iraq/article30398829.ece

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