Sunday July 31, 2022

Hundreds camp at Iraqi parliament for second day

Hundreds camp at Iraqi parliament for second day

On Saturday after pulling down heavy concrete barricades on roads leading to Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

Hundreds of followers of powerful Iraqi Shiite preacher Moqtada Sadr camped at the country's parliament Sunday for a second day, protesting against corruption and political mismanagement.

Despite tear gas, water cannon and baking temperatures that touched 47 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit), they stormed the complex on Saturday after pulling down heavy concrete barricades on roads leading to Baghdad's fortified Green Zone of diplomatic and government buildings.

The health ministry said at least 100 protesters and 25 security personnel were hurt in the confrontation.


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Nearly 10 months after October elections, Iraq is still without a new government despite intense negotiations between factions.

Analysts have said Sadr, a mercurial cleric who once led a militia against US and Iraqi government forces, is using street protests to signal that his views must be taken into account in any government formation.

Hundreds camp at Iraqi parliament for second day

Both the United Nations and European Union warned about escalating tensions.

The immediate trigger for the occupation was the decision by a rival Shiite bloc, which is pro-Iran, to pick former cabinet minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for the prime minister's post.

On Sunday morning, the demonstrators marked the Muslim month of Muharram, a traditional Shiite celebration, with religious chants and collective meals.

"We were hoping for the best but we got the worst. The politicians currently in parliament have brought us nothing," said one of the protesters, Abdelwahab Al -Jaafari, 45, a day labourer with nine children.

Volunteers distributed soup, hard-boiled eggs, bread and water to the protesters.

Some had spent the night inside the air-conditioned building — which dates from dictator Saddam Hussein's era — with blankets spread out on the marble floors.

Others took to the gardens, on plastic mats under palm trees.

Agence France-Presse

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