Iraq protests reach ports and continued diplomatic pressure to resolve the crisis

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Weeks of weeks of protests against the political class and demanding “overthrow of the regime” in Iraq led to a halt on Wednesday in ports and oil fields, as diplomatic pressure continued to seek a solution to the crisis that has been in place for more than a month and a half.

Protests since October 1 rocked Baghdad and some southern Iraqi cities, demanding “overthrow of the regime” and sweeping reforms, accusing the political class of “corruption” and “failure” to run the country.

On Tuesday, the movement began beating the country’s economic backbone. In the southern oil-rich province of Basra, an AFP correspondent reported that the demonstrators continued to block roads leading to the ports of Khor Al-Zubair and Umm Qasr, and Rumaila oil fields, which led to the suspension of work.

An official source in the Department of Basra Ports told AFP that the ports of “Umm Qasr and Khor Al-Zubair stopped completely because of the protests in Basra,” before it is re-work hours later in Khor Al-Zubair “after the agreement with the demonstrators.”

Another official source said that “the import and export stopped because of the inability of trucks to enter the ports of Khor Al-Zubair and Umm Qasr,” which are the most prominent for the export of oil derivatives and import, in addition to various goods.

The port of Umm Qasr is vital for the import of food and medicine.

It is not the first time that protests have cut off roads leading to the ports of Basra, the country’s only seaport. The pieces prevent the exit and entry of trucks and tanks to and from the ports.

The Iraqi parliament held a session on Tuesday evening devoted to discuss the possible ministerial amendments and the first reading of a new electoral law.

– UN demand to develop draft election law –

The meeting came a day after a meeting of political blocs representing key parties in the government, which included President Barham Salih, President of the Kurdistan region, Nechirvan Barzani, leaders of political blocs, including former prime ministers Haider al-Abadi and Nuri al-Maliki and leaders in the Popular Mobilization Forces, but in the absence of Abdul Mahdi.

The meeting gave the government 45 days (end of 2019) to implement the promised reforms, “and if it fails, confidence will be withdrawn,” and the election law will be amended “fairly to provide equal chances to win for independent candidates.” They have also given parliament the same time to “pass the laws demanded by the demonstrators,” or they will call early legislative elections.

The parliament discussed Tuesday a new electoral law, including a series of amendments, including reducing the number of seats from 329 to 251, and reducing the size of electoral districts (from the province to the judiciary), and how to distribute the votes in a complex and complex system.

But the United Nations, which has recently played a key role in the search for a solution to the crisis, and has presented an exit plan that highlights electoral reform, stressed the need to improve the new bill.

“The draft electoral legislation currently under review by the House of Representatives requires improvements to meet the demands of the people,” a UNAMI statement said.

The head of the mission, Jenin Hennes-Blachart, urged lawmakers to pass a law reflecting “the desire of the people to adopt a new and different way of conducting political work.”

– Continuous run in the capital.

More than 330 people, mostly demonstrators, have been killed since the wave of protests began.

In central Baghdad, where Tahrir Square has become a symbol of action and protests, thousands gathered Wednesday, mostly schoolchildren and university students, according to an AFP photographer, a day after a parliament session discussed a possible cabinet reshuffle in the government of Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a new election law, and a number of reform steps that Demonstrators insist they do not fully meet their demands.

The demonstrator Younis, 28, told AFP in Tahrir Square, “yesterday’s session was to serve their personal interests, and do not serve the people.”

“We want to change the government and dissolve the parties,” he said.

In a related context, a police source said that the demonstrators tried during the hours of the night and early Wednesday morning, crossing the bridges of Alsink and Ahrar, prompting the security forces to fire tear gas at them.

This caused suffocation among the demonstrators, according to the same source.

The protests cut three major bridges between the two parts of Baghdad, the Republic, the Liberals and the Senk. Demonstrators frequently seek to break the cordon imposed by security forces on these bridges, and cross from Rusafa to Karkh, where the Green Zone, home to most government buildings and several foreign embassies, is located, which security forces are blocking.

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