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Protesters impose civil disobedience in Basra 

Protestors attend ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Iraq's capital Baghdad on November 02, 2019 [Murtadha Sudani / Anadolu Agency]
Iraqis protest against the government in Iraq, Baghdad on 2 November 2019 [Murtadha Sudani/Anadolu Agency]

Protesters in Basra prevented on Sunday employees of official and vital institutions from reaching their workplaces to force them to carry out civil disobedience, paralysing public services in the governorate, to pressure the Iraqi government to respond to their demands.

Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces warned the protesters against any attempt to cross the roadblocks they had set up on Al-Sanak Bridge leading to the Green Zone, calling on them to retreat to Tahrir Square.

Jassim Al-Aydani, one of the coordinators of the Basra demonstrations, told the Anadolu Agency:  “The protesters blocked the road leading to State Company for iron and steel plant west of the governorate, and blocking the passage of buses transporting employees.”

He indicated that the protesters also blocked roads leading to the State Company of Fertilizers and Basrah Gas Company (BGC) west of Basra, and prevented employees from going to their jobs.

Al-Aydani continued that the civil disobedience came as a reaction to the failure of the government and parliament to respond to the protesters’ demands.

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In Baghdad, the riot police warned the protesters through loudspeakers to stay away from the concrete barrier on Al-Sanak Bridge to avoid confrontations with the security forces.

The Anadolu Agency’s correspondent stated that the coordinators of the protests in Baghdad are looking to move to a new stage of demonstrations because of the authorities’ failure to meet the protesters’ demands and stalling attempts made by the government, the parliament and the political parties.

Al-Sanak Bridge separates protesters in Tahrir Square from the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the government buildings, the parliament and foreign missions.

The security forces’ warning came hours after the protesters succeeded in lifting concrete barriers set up by the security forces in Abu Nawas Street in central Baghdad, which leads to the double-deck bridge, one of the entrances to the Green Zone from the Karrada area.

Faisal Abdullah, a member of UN Commission on Human Rights, told the Anadolu Agency, on Saturday that 260 protesters have been killed and 12.000 others injured since the start of protests, in early October.

He added that some 100 government buildings and party headquarters were set on fire.

Calm prevailed in the political scene, on Saturday, as a result of significant pressures exerted by political forces, over the past few days, on the government to resign, especially by Musa Al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist movement.

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The government only issued a statement calling on foreign countries and international organisations not to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq and respect its sovereignty.

Since 25 October, Iraq has been witnessing a wave of protests against the government, the second of its kind following another which took place about two weeks earlier.

The protesters initially demanded better public services, more employment opportunities and elimination of corruption. They have since demanded the downfall of the government citing its excessive use of violence – particularly by the army and security forces.

Since the protests started, Abdul-Mahdi’s government has adopted several reform packages in several sectors. However, the solutions suggested by the Iraqi government have not satisfied the protesters, who insist on overthrowing the government among many other demands.

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