Published: Sat, November 30, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Violence Continues in Iraq Despite PM's Resignation

Violence Continues in Iraq Despite PM's Resignation

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

That's why, today, the spokesman for Iraq's most powerful Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, spoke to followers and strongly suggested the government step aside. "We'll stay in the streets until the entire government has gone, and all the rest of the corrupt politicians", said Mustafa Hafidh, a protester at Baghdad's Tahrir Square.

The statement did not say when he would resign. The Iraqi parliament is to convene an emergency session on Sunday to discuss the crisis.

The deaths bring the total nationwide to 408 since 1 October, according to Reuters.

An estimated 400 people have been killed and over a thousand injured during the demonstrations, some by live fire from security officers, including rooftop snipers.

Earlier on Friday, Sistani had urged parliament to drop its support for the current cabinet following the unrest. "Parliament, from which the current government emerged, must reconsider its choices and do what's in the interest of Iraq", a representative of Sistani said in a televised sermon.

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Al-Sistani also said protesters should distinguish between peaceful demonstrators and those seeking to turn the movement violent, following the burning of an Iranian consulate building in Najaf on Wednesday that government officials say was perpetrated by saboteurs from outside the protest movement.

Iraq's "enemies and their apparatuses are trying to sow chaos and infighting to return the country to the age of dictatorship".

Security forces meanwhile shot dead at least three people in the southern city of Nassiriya as clashes continued.

Protesters demand the departure of a Shi'ite-dominated ruling elite backed by Iran which has held power since the US-led invasion and overthrow of Sunni president Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The unrest is Iraq's biggest crisis for years. "This brutal onslaught is just the latest in a long series of deadly events where Iraqi security forces meted out appalling violence against largely peaceful protesters", said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

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