Iraq death toll passes 400 after weeks of mass protests

29 Novembre, 2019, 20:55 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi speaks to the media during a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara Turkey in May

The move by Adel Abdul-Mahdi, which came 13 months after he took office, triggered celebrations by anti-government protesters who have been camped out for almost two months in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.

Iraqis have been taking to the streets of Baghdad and the country's Shi'ite-majority south since early October to demand more jobs, an end to endemic corruption, and improved public services.

Abdul-Mahdi, a former finance minister, was picked by rival Shiite Muslim groups as a consensus candidate following parliamentary elections in 2018, but has struggled to form a strong government and start the nation's recovery from a devastating war with Islamic State jihadists.

Abdel-Mahdi, 77, took office just over a year ago.

In response, Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi ordered military chiefs to deploy in several provinces to "impose security and restore order" - but chaos reigned instead. "The real number is much higher", Ali said at a press conference, adding that Adel Abdul Mahdi's government should resign over the failure to meet demonstrators' demands.

"I will submit the official letter to the House of Representatives to step down as head of the present government to let the parliament consider their variants", the prime minister said in a statement.

Friday's announcement came a day after more than 50 people were killed in the capital Baghdad and Iraq's mainly-Shia southern cities of Nasiriya and Najaf.

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Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani earlier urged the parliament to consider withdrawing its support for Abdul Mahdi's government to stem spiraling violence.

Sistani also said protesters should distinguish between peaceful demonstrators and those with malign intentions.

In the south of Iraq alone, security forces have killed 36 people and wounded another 245 since Wednesday evening, after protesters burned the consulate of Iran in the holy city of Najaf, security and medical officials told AP. More than 15, ooo people have also been wounded according to the AFP news agency.

Baghdad and the south have been rocked by street unrest, with a protest movement venting fury at the government and its backers in Iran.

Dozens of protesters have been killed and hundreds more injured in clashes with police since popular unrest swept across parts of Iraq's south beginning on October 1, when thousands took to the streets demanding jobs, an end to corruption and what they said was Iran's meddling in Iraq's internal affairs.

Protestors had torched the Iranian consulate the previous night.

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