Iraq protests: UN chief calls on relevant actors to ‘de-escalate and avoid further violence’


UN Secretary-General António Guterres is “following with concern” ongoing protests in Iraq, during which many people have been injured, according to his deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq.

For the second time in a week, on Saturday protesters stormed the parliament in Baghdad, breaching the high-security Green Zone and injuring more than 120 people, news media reported.

In a statement issued late Saturday night, the UN chief appealed to all relevant actors “to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation, avoid any further violence, and ensure the protection of peaceful protesters and State institutions”.

The violence in the Iraqi capital, followed nine months of a political deadlock that has prevented the creation of a new government and on Wednesday hundreds of people first broke into the parliament.

News reports said that the unrest has been triggered by supporters of Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr – whose block won the majority of seats last October and who opposes the nomination of a pro-Iran rival candidate for prime minister.

Mr. Guterres noted that “freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental rights that must be respected at all times”.

“The Secretary-General urges all parties and actors to rise above their differences and form, through peaceful and inclusive dialogue, an effective national government that will be able to deliver on longstanding demands for reform, without further delay,” the statement concluded. (Source: UN News)