Protests force Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi to quit

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Baghdad - Abdul Mahdi's decision came in response to a call for a change of leadership.


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Published: Fri 29 Nov 2019, 5:38 PM

Last updated: Sat 30 Nov 2019, 7:56 AM

Iraq’s embattled premier announced on Friday he will resign in keeping with the wishes of the country’s top Shia cleric, after nearly two months of anti-government protests that have cost more than 400 lives.
Adel Abdel Mahdi’s written statement was greeted with cheers and blaring music across Baghdad’s iconic Tahrir (Liberation) Square, where crowds have amassed since early October against a ruling class deemed corrupt and inefficient.
“I will submit to the esteemed parliament a formal letter requesting my resignation from the premiership,” Abdel Mahdi wrote, just hours after Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called in his weekly sermon on parliament to replace the cabinet.
The sermon set off an avalanche of statements from political figures in support of a no-confidence vote on the government, before the prime minister’s announcement.
Celebrations broke out in Tahrir, where young protesters dropped the stones they were preparing to throw at riot police and began dancing.
“It’s our first victory, and we’re hoping for many more,” shouted one demonstrator as the three-wheeled tuk-tuk vehicles used to ferry casualties pumped patriotic music into the square.
“It’s also a victory for the martyrs who fell,” he said. The grassroots movement is the largest Iraq has seen in decades but also the deadliest, with more than 400 people dead and 15,000 wounded in the capital and south.
For weeks, Sistani had called for restraint in dealing with demonstrators and urged political parties to get “serious” about reform, but he ramped up demands on Friday. 

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