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Iraq president urges protesters to be calm, use reason

Iraqi President, Barham Salih on 26 November 2008 in Baghdad [Ali Al-Saadi- Pool/Getty Images]
Iraqi President, Barham Salih on 26 November 2008 in Baghdad [Ali Al-Saadi- Pool/Getty Images]

Iraqi President Barham Salih has called on Iraqi protesters to express their opinion in a peaceful manner, stressing that the constitution guarantees the right to protest.

In a statement Salih called on protesters "to avoid any escalation that might affect societal peace and security," and to "use the language of reason while protesting", adding that Iraq is going through difficult times and faces many challenges.

Salih's statement came after a number of Sadrist supporters stormed the parliament building in the Green Zone in Baghdad, in protest against the nomination of Mohammed Al-Sudani for the position of prime minister.

"Peaceful demonstration and expressions of opinion is a constitutionally guaranteed right, with the need to adhere to regulations and laws, maintaining public security and public property, exercising restraint and advancing national interest above all else," Salih said.

He pointed to the need for concerted efforts to meet the national requirements, achieve the will of the people, respond to their aspirations for reform, and form effective authorities that protect the country's higher interests and consolidate a capable state that achieves the people's aspirations for a better future.

The Iraqi parliament is scheduled to hold a session within days to elect a new president from among 25 candidates. This move is necessary to assign a new prime minister.

Al-Sudani's nomination is expected to be approved by the parliament after the withdrawal of Al-Sadr's parliamentary bloc.

Al-Sudani is seen as being under the wing of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and helped found Al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition, through which he was elected to parliament three times. Al-Maliki has faced numerous corruption allegations.

For him to assume the job of prime minister, he would need 165 out of 329 votes in parliament.

READ: Iraq's Shia Cleric, Al-Sadr, likely to veto new candidate for premiership

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