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Thousands restart anti-government protests in Iraq

May 11, 2020 at 11:24 am

Iraqi demonstrators throw gasoline bomb following Iraqi security forces’ interventions as they gather to stage a protest as the protests have started again after a break due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) measures, at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq on 10 May 2020. [Murtadha Al-Sudani – Anadolu Agency]

Thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in central and southern Iraq yesterday only a few days after the government of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi took office, Anadolu Agency reported.

The protesters, sceptical of the new government, gathered in Tahrir Square demanding an end to rampant corruption, improved living conditions and an overhaul of the country’s political elite.

An Anadolu correspondent said security forces in Baghdad blocked Al-Jumhuriya Bridge, which connects Tahrir Square with the heavily fortified Green Zone housing government offices and foreign embassies, prevented civilians from crossing it.

Hundreds of protesters also took to the streets in the governorates of Dhi Qar, Muthanna, Wasit and Diwaniyah, amid tight security measures.

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Earlier yesterday, the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council said in a statement that it had ordered the release of all anti-government protesters held since protests erupted across the country in October 2019 in response to the prime minister’s orders.

On Saturday, Al-Kadhimi ordered the release of all detained anti-establishment protesters and pledged to compensate the families of the nearly 600 protesters killed during the protests.

Protests were halted in March 2020 amid a government lockdown as a result of the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, however demonstrators took the streets again as soon as measures were eased.