Iraq News - Local News - Baghdadpost

Iraq's protests escalate as frustration grows over lack of reform

Protesters in Iraq stepped up calls for reform on Monday as they clashed with security forces, with the United Nations urging for calm amid heightened tensions.

Protesters blocked roads that connect the capital Baghdad to southern provinces on Monday morning after dozens of people were injured overnight, The National reported.

The UN called for the demonstrations to remain peaceful and urged authorities to push for reform, and expressed concern about ongoing human rights violations. At least 600 people have been killed and thousands wounded since the protest movement began in early October.

“The killing and injury of peaceful protesters, combined with long years of undelivered promises, have resulted in a major crisis of confidence,” UN envoy to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said in a statement.

Protests also erupted in the southern provinces of Najaf, Dhi Qar, Karbala and Basra on Monday morning.

“Any steps taken so far to address the people’s concerns will remain hollow, if they are not completed. Domestic unity, cohesion and determination are urgently necessary to build resilience against narrow partisan interests, foreign interference and/or criminal elements that actively seek to hinder Iraq’s stability," Ms Hennis-Plasschaert said.

Security forces on Sunday fired tear gas to disperse crowds in Tayarn square and the nearby Sinak Bridge, which leads towards the fortified Green Zone that is home to diplomatic missions and government buildings. Dozens were wounded.

Protesters gave the government a deadline of one week to meet their demands for sweeping political reforms, or the demonstrations will escalate.

The development comes as parliament postponed a vital session on Sunday due to lack of quorum.

Officials were supposed to discuss the replacement of outgoing Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in late November, for his lack of response to meet protesters demands.

“Two months after the prime minister announced his resignation, political leaders remain unable to agree on the way forward,” said a statement by the UN mission to Iraq.

The next parliamentary session is expected to be held on Wednesday.