Thousands take part in Iraq protest
Baghdad, Iraq - Thousands took to the streets in Iraq’s capital and across the south on Sunday to protest against Iran’s kingmaking influence as the latest deadline for choosing a new prime minister loomed.
Anti-government rallies have rocked Baghdad and the Shiitemajority south since October 1, with demonstrators calling for a complete overhaul of a regime they deem corrupt, inefficient and overly beholden to Tehran.
‘The revolution continues!’ shouted one demonstrator at a protest encampment in central Diwaniyah. Protesters blocked off public buildings one by one in the southern Iraqi city, and put up banners reading ‘The country is under construction - please excuse the disruption’.
Sunday marks the latest deadline - already pushed back twice by President Barham Saleh - for parliament to choose a new premier to replace Adel Abdel Mahdi, who tendered his administration’s resignation last month.
Parliament speaker Mohammed al Halbussi on Sunday travelled to Arbil, capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, to discuss who could become the next prime minister, the presidency there said.
Officials say Iran wants to install Qusay al Suhail, who served as higher education minister in the government of Abdel Mahdi.
“This is exactly what we oppose - Iranian control over our country,” said 24 year old student Houeida, in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the protests.
The demonstrators reject Suhail’s candidacy, along with anyone from the wider political establishment that has been in place since Saddam Hussein was deposed in 2003.
“Hundreds of martyrs have fallen and they are still not listening to our claims,” said 21 year old student Mouataz, in Tahrir Square. “We want a prime minister with integrity, but they bring back a corrupt man in their image whom they will allow to continue robbing us,” he added.
People take part in an anti-government demonstration in the Tahrir Square, in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Sunday