Prominent Shiite cleric in Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr demanded the Iraqi government to fully resign on October 4. Amidst the ongoing protests against the government, al Sadr reportedly wanted to start early elections under the supervision of the United Nations. The continuous demonstrations have claimed the lives of dozens of people and the Shiite cleric believes it is a disregard for the “Iraqi blood” which cannot be tolerated. Earlier that day, al-Sadr had also urged the legislators to suspend their parliamentary membership and boycott all the sessions until the government addresses the demands made by protesters.
These are the largest demonstrations till today against the fragile government under the Iraqi Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi. The protesters have raised a number of problems that supposedly plague the daily life of many Iraqis, like corruption, lack of services and unemployment. The citizens took to the streets in the cities of Nasiriyah, Diwaniyah, and Basra. Many demonstrators in Baghdad were reportedly also seen holding photographs of the most famous war heroes of the country, Lt Gen Abdulwahab al-Saadi who was also the former head of the counterterrorism force of Iraq. He also led the fight to defeat the Islamic State. Al-Saadi was removed from his post last week and it also followed days of speculation that military groups that are loyal to Iran had forced his departure.
The death toll in the anti-government protests for the last four days has reportedly increased to 60. According to the military officials, unidentified snipers had purportedly killed four people in Baghdad which also included two police officers. The Iraqi PM has requested people to maintain calm and said that legitimate demands would be addressed. Despite the PM's plea, hundreds of Iraqis have continued to flood the streets. According to an international agency. Security forces were seen firing live rounds at the demonstrators who were trying to reach the Tahrir Square in Baghdad. Most of the unrest has been focused on the capital. Mahdi's government responded to the protesters however, according to them, there is no spontaneous solution to the country's problems. The Iraqi PM has reportedly given his full support to the security forces and suggested that they abide by international standards to deal with the unrest.
(With agency inputs)