Iraq PM calls for calm as protests gather steam; toll climbs to 44

Iraq PM calls for calm as protests gather steam; toll climbs to 44

Baghdad - Security forces responded by firing live bullets to disperse the crowd near Tahrir Square.



By AP

Published: Sun 6 Oct 2019, 12:21 AM

Iraq's premier on Friday urged anti-government protesters to go home, saying their "legitimate demands" have been heard and comparing security measures imposed in the wake of this week's demonstrations to "bitter medicine" that needs to be swallowed as the death toll from the violence rose to 44.
Dozens of protesters defied his message, gathering shortly before noon near Baghdad's central Tahrir Square. Many had camped out on the streets overnight.
Security forces responded by firing live bullets to disperse the crowd near Tahrir Square.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi spoke in a televised address to the nation, broadcast at 2.30am, about the demonstrations that have spread across many provinces in the country.
The rallies have erupted spontaneously, mostly spurred by youths wanting jobs, improved services such as electricity and water, and an end to endemic corruption in the oil-rich country. Authorities have also cut internet access in much of Iraq since late Wednesday, in a desperate move to curb the rallies. "We will not make empty promises ... or promise what we cannot achieve," said Abdul Mahdi, who hails from Nasiriyah.
He said there is "no magic solution" to Iraq's problems but pledged to work on laws granting poor families a basic income, provide alternative housing to violators and fight corruption.


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