Iraqi PM resigning as protests rage across Iraq
Iraq's prime minister, beset by mass protests, is stepping down.
By Charlette Iverson | Feb 11, 2020 | Print-friendly

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced his resignation Friday, ceding to pressure from dissenting top clerics and increasingly violent protests from Iraqi citizens who were decrying government corruption. His announcement comes at the end of six weeks of confrontations between demonstrators and government security forces in which more than 400 Iraqis have died and the Iranian consulate in Najaf was torched.

A parliamentary session will convene Sunday to discuss Mahdi's resignation and ways to endthe crisis.

Protests first broke out October 1, when demonstrators in cities in southern and central Iraq accused the government establishment of ignoring its citizens' needs and using oil revenues to enrich themselves. Security forces attempted to suppress demonstrations with force, and protests turned bloody.

Instead of dispersing, however, the protests morphed into antigovernment movements calling for toppling the country's leadership. An estimated 200,000 Iraqis have participated in the demonstrations.

"How is it that we are one of the richest countries and our people are broke? How is it that we still don't have access to water though we have two major rivers? We have high unemployment, corruption, no services and they still have the guts to fire at us when we protest," said Karrar Moussawi, a Baghdad resident who joined the protests.

Dissent also arose from national religious leaders, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who demanded that Iraq's parliament hold hearings on Mahdi. Sistani, who hold great influence among the public and only speaks on political matters in times of crisis, urged the government Friday to stop killing protesters and told protesters to refrain from further violence.