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Iran Press TV

Protests escalate in Baghdad as Iraqis urge reforms

Iran Press TV

Mon Apr 18, 2016 6:2PM

Thousands gathered at the entrance of a high-security compound in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Monday as protests continue over a delay in the parliament to endorse reforms in the government.

The protest started from Baghdad's Tahrir Square, where people have been holding a one-day sit-in, and then reached the gates of the heavily fortified Green Zone, where the government and foreign embassies are located.

There was a call over loudspeaker in Tahrir, urging people to run from the sit-in site to the Jumhuriyah Bridge which leads to the gates of the Green Zone.

The action comes less than a month after Iraqis followed an appeal by the influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and staged rounds of protests and sit-downs outside the Green Zone. Those protests ended after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi presented a new cabinet line-up to parliament.

However Abadi's bid to replace the cabinet of party-affiliated ministers with a government of technocrats has met heavy resistance in the legislature, with dominant parties still wanting affiliated figures as ministers in a bid to maintain their grip on power and wealth in Iraq.

"It is a message we want to deliver to the government and the parliament," Ibrahim al-Jaberi, the head of Sadr's east Baghdad office said Monday, adding that the demonstrators would not try to enter the Green Zone. He said, however, that people could be quickly mobilized to gather there.

On March 31, the parliament in Iraq rejected an initial list presented by Abadi, which mainly included independent professionals. The Iraqi premier then replaced most of his nominees with those proposed by political blocs. The move sparked protests and clashes in the parliament with voting on government reshuffle postponed three times.

The global slump in oil prices and Iraq's costly battle against the Daesh Takfiri group has badly shattered the Arab country's finances. That has apparently affected the daily life of Iraqis, making corruption a major issue in light of the current political wrangling.

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