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Iraq releases 2,500 demonstrators, pledges new reforms

Protestors attend ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Iraq's capital Baghdad on November 02, 2019 [Murtadha Sudani / Anadolu Agency]
A protester attends anti-government demonstrations in Iraq's capital Baghdad on 2 November 2019 [Murtadha Sudani/Anadolu Agency]

Some 2,500 Iraqis who were arrested during the recent demonstrations in Iraq will be released, news agencies reported the Ministerial Council announcing late on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said that there had been "regrettable" incidents in the country that harmed the people and resulted in deaths and injuries among the demonstrators and armed forces.

He stressed that many efforts had been made "to correct" government policies, the elections' law and other issues.

"We stressed on stopping detentions of people on the grounds of their opinions or detaining any blogger," he said, "even those who carried out violations."

He reiterated that the right to peaceful demonstration is a "positive sign" which should be respected, "but violence should be deterred".

READ: Fire rages as Iraq protesters torch Iran consulate

Abdul-Mahdi warned of the collapse of the ruling system and noted that people want to return to their jobs and open their shops which were severely damaged, stressing that the state cannot stay silent in this regard.

Commenting on UN reports which criticised the government's crackdown on demonstrators, the prime minister said: "We accept criticism," noting that a special security agency has recently been established to reinforce the work of the police "but it has not yet received the needed training."

In October, a wave of demonstrations started in the country calling for legislative and economic reforms.

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