Iraqi security forces have killed at least five people on Saturday, November 09, as they live ammunition, tear gas and sound bombs, to push protesters back towards their main camp in central Baghdad. More people have also been wounded in the clashes.
Security forces are back in control of all major thoroughfares except one major bridge linking the Iraqi capital’s eastern residential and business districts to government headquarters across the Tigris river.
The government promised reforms aimed at ending the crisis.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Saturday that political parties had “made mistakes” in their running of the country, recognised the legitimacy of protest to bring about political change and pledged electoral reform.
Demonstrations in Iraq began on October 01 when protesters, demanding jobs and services gathered at Tahrir Square in Baghdad and have swelled in the capital and southern cities with calls for an overhaul of the sectarian political system.
The October protest is the biggest and most complex challenge in years to the political order set up after a US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Iraq, exhausted by decades of conflict and sanctions, had enjoyed relative calm after Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was defeated in 2017.
But the government has been unable to find an answer to the current round of unrest which pits the entire political class against mostly unemployed youth who have seen no improvement in their lives even in peacetime.
Despite government pledges of reform, security forces have used lethal force since the start and killed more than 280 people across the country. (Source: The Straits Times)