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Iraqi Politicians Miss Deadline for New Prime Minister

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Thousands of Iraqis protested Monday in Baghdad and other parts of the country after politicians missed an overnight deadline for naming a new prime minister.

Anti-government rallies have rocked the capital and the Shiite-majority south since October with people protesting against corruption, poor services and a lack of jobs.

President Barham Salih and parliament have missed several deadlines to appoint a new prime minister following Adel Abdul Mahdi's resignation last month. Mahdi and his government agreed to stay on in a caretaker role until a new prime minister is approved.

Mahdi's resignation failed to satisfy anti-government protesters who have said it is not enough for a new prime minister to take over.  They are demanding changes to the entire political system imposed after the U.S. invasion in 2003, which they say is corrupt, inept and does little to help impoverished Iraqis despite the nation’s oil wealth.

Protesters on Sunday decried a potential pick for the new prime minister, former higher education minister Qusay al-Suhail, who is opposed by critics for his ties to Iran. Demonstrators categorically reject his candidacy along with any other potential contenders who have been part of the government since 2003.

At least 460 people have died and tens of thousands of others have been wounded since the demonstrations erupted in October in Baghdad and in Shiite-majority areas in southern Iraq.
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