Iraq News - Local News - Baghdadpost

Sairoon alliance urges govt to meet protesters demands

The biggest bloc in the Iraqi parliament started a sit-in protest on Sunday urging the government to meet the demands of the anti-corruption protesters as the country reels from  the second wave of widespread protest which have left more than 70 people dead.

The Sairoon shia bloc, headed by the populist influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, officially declared itself as an ‘opposition’ to the  government and said during a press conference that if the government  of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi does not meet the protesters  demands, it would work intensively towards the toppling of the  government.  

Anti-government protests that began in early October resumed in Baghdad late on Thursday as people demand more transparency and an end to government incompetence and corruption. Iraqis are suffering from shortage of basic services including water and electricity, 16 years after Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled by a US-led coalition.

Sairoon’s decision comes after two days of deadly protests in Baghdad and other southern cities that resulted in dozens of people dead and thousands others wounded during clashes between protesters and security forces.

“For the sake of the martyrs, we announce that Sairoon bloc is an opposition bloc in the parliament,” the bloc said in the press  conference. “We also announce that we will be on strike until the government meets all the demands of the protesters or we will start intensively to topple the government.”

The Sairoon alliance is the biggest bloc in the parliament, with 54 seats and four government ministries. They did not say if the ministers would resign from Abdul-Mahdi’s government.

The Iraqi parliament scheduled a session on Saturday to  discuss the demands of the protesters and the ministerial reforms that  Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi announced earlier this week. The  session did not go to plan after it failed to reach a quorum.

The protests initially aimed at government reform, with protesters demanding more job opportunities and an end to endemic corruption but there are now demands for officials to resign.

According to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), more than 70  people have been killed 3000 wounded in Baghdad and across the country's Shiite-majority south since Friday in  violence condemned worldwide.   
Dozens of videos circulating on social media clearly show security forces using excessive force, such as tear gas fired directly into crowds, live ammunition, and sound grenades.

Tensions remained high across several cities on Saturday, with security forces cutting off roads and imposing strict curfews.

Curfews were announced on Friday in eight provinces and remained  active on Saturday in Basra, Diwaniyah, Muthana, Maysan, Dhi Qar,  Karbala, Babylon, and Wasit provinces.

Videos circulating on social media on Sunday showed students from  schools and universities across the country striking, demanding the ‘fall of the regime’.

Iraq saw nationwide anti-government protests in early October  demanding action to tackle high youth unemployment, poverty, poor  services, and corruption. The largest protests were in the capital  where thousands of mostly young men took to the streets and were  violently suppressed by security forces and armed militia groups.

At  least 157 people were killed and 5,494 injured in the wave of unrest,  according to a report published by the Human Rights Office of the  United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) on Tuesday.

The protests stopped after October 9, with demonstrators saying they  were pausing their action during the Shiite religious observance of  Arbaeen, but pledged to return to the streets for a "revolution" on  October 25.