Iraqi parliament accepts PM Abdul Mahdi’s resignation as unrest continues


Following weeks of unrest, Iraq’s parliament has approved the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

The decision by parliament to approve Mr Abdul Mahdi’s resignation was made in an emergency session called on Sunday.

It is unclear who will take over from Mr Abdul Mahdi. The parliament speaker said President Barham Saleh would be asked to name a new prime minister.

Existing laws in Iraq do not clearly set out a way for members of parliament to deal with a prime minister’s resignation, but lawmakers on Sunday acted on the legal opinion of the Supreme Court, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Under the constitution, the president is expected to ask the largest bloc in parliament to nominate a new prime minister to form a government.

Mr Abdul Mahdi and his government will stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new government is chosen.

Mr Abdul Mahdi took office just over a year ago, promising reforms that have not materialised. Young Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad for the first time at the beginning of October.

After the first wave of protests – which began in October, lasted six days and saw 149 civilians killed – Mr Abdul Mahdi promised to reshuffle his cabinet and cut the salaries of high-ranking officials, and also announced schemes to reduce youth unemployment.

But the protesters said their demands had not been met and returned to the streets in late October. The demonstrations escalated and spread across the country after security personnel responded with deadly force.

Officials say more than a dozen members of the security forces have also died in clashes.

Meanwhile the Pope has become the latest figure to condemn security forces’ use of lethal force.

Pope Francis said he was following the situation there “with concern”.

“It is with pain that I have learned of the protest demonstrations of the past days that were met with a harsh response, causing tens of victims,” he said at his weekly Sunday blessing.

The Pope says he wants to visit Iraq next year. (Source: BBC)