Iraqis keep up demonstrations despite PM's vow to quit
Iraqi demonstrators celebrate with a national flag as they ride in the back of a pick-up truck following the PM's announcement to tender his resignation [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP]
Date: 2019-11-30 16:14
Iraqis kept up anti-government protests in Baghdad and the south on Saturday (November 30), 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 at 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, 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.
Teenager protesters also held their ground in Baghdad, staring down security forces positioned behind concrete barriers to protect government buildings.
"We won't leave our barricades until the regime falls, until we get jobs, water, electricity," one protester said.
Hundreds also converged in the main protest camp in Nasiriyah's city centre and set tyres ablaze on three bridges spanning the Euphrates River, according to AFP's correspondent.
The bloodshed this week sparked criticism from the United Nations, which said the deaths "cannot be tolerated."
Based on AFP