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Thousands protest across Iraq calling for reformations

A wave of protests kicked off in July as civic activists called for swift action against corruption and lack of services
Employees of the Iraqi electricity industry demonstrate in Baghdad on 10 March 2011 (AFP)

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in the Iraqi capital Baghdad and the country’s southern provinces on Saturday to protest against the lack of services and high rates of unemployment.

The demonstrations came in response to calls initiated by the civil movement against corruption and called for swift action to be taken against corruption and “corrupt” government officials they hold responsible for continued electricity outages, water cuts and rising unemployment rates, reported Aljazeera.

Protesters also demanded the reformation of the judiciary and the elimination of sectarianism throughout government institutions, reported Aljazeera.

The protests are a continuation of demonstrations that started in July as hundreds took to Tahrir Square in Baghdad calling on the government to meet their demands. The protests have continued on a weekly basis, usually erupting on Fridays.

Despite high security measures taken by the state to contain the protests, the wave of demonstrations continues to be strong across several southern cities, including al-Hila, al-Nasira, Basra, Najaf and Karbala.

Hundreds of the civic activists demonstrated in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square calling on the government to issue their salaries, which they claim have been delayed for months, reported the Anadolu Agency.

Security forces reportedly surrounded government buildings while the Ministry of Interior dispatched more forces to control the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the streets in Iraq’s southeastern province of Maysan demanding a reformation of the judiciary and an end to the hegemony of religious parties over Iraq’s government institutions.

Similarly in Iraq’s southern provinces of Basra, Babil and Dilqar, thousands more civic activsts protested in front of the local governorate building, calling for immediate reformations including changes to the constitution.

Earlier this month a civic activist and an organiser of the demonstrations in Basra told Al Jazeera: “We are sending a message to government officials telling them that we’ve had enough of political rhetoric. We demand basic services,” said Mohamed Hassan. “We will continue to protest, and we will escalate our action until our demands are met.” 

In response to earlier demonstrations, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said in a televised statement in early August that the protests signalled an “alarm bell” for the government, calling on it to address protesters demands immediately.

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