Parliament approves cabinet resignation amid mourning marches across Iraq

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Iraq’s parliament on Sunday approved the resignation of the government of Adel Abdul-Mahdi, nearly two months after a wave of protests that killed more than 420 people, thousands of Iraqis marched in mourning for their lives in several provinces of the country.

The vote comes two days after Abdul-Mahdi announced his intention to resign, following the request of the country’s top Shiite religious authority from parliament to withdraw confidence from the government.

Parliament opened its session on Sunday afternoon and approved the resignation within minutes, making Abdul Mahdi’s government a “caretaker” government, according to the constitution.

Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi said he would address President Barham Saleh to appoint a new prime minister.

Since the beginning of October, there has been a wave of angry protests calling for the “overthrow of the regime” and the change of the political class that has been in power for 16 years, accused of corruption and waste of the country’s wealth.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi court on Sunday issued the first judgment against a police officer convicted of killing protesters in the city of Kut, south of Baghdad, according to a judicial source.

The criminal court ordered that a police major be hanged, while another was sentenced to seven years in jail after a suit filed by the families of two of the seven people shot dead on November 2 in Kut, the capital of Wasit province, the source told AFP.

Hours before Sunday’s parliamentary session, another protester was shot dead in central Baghdad, according to a medical source.

Though protests have continued for two months in Baghdad and several southern cities, Sunni-dominated areas have not seen protests for fear of being accused by the authorities of supporting “terrorism” or being a supporter of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The protests turned into mourning parades in which Sunni-dominated cities, including Mosul, took part in the north.

Iraqi forces retook Mosul in July 2017, three years after ISIS seized control.

On Sunday morning, hundreds of students, dressed in black, went out to mourn at the Mosul campus.

– “All Iraq” –

“This is the least we can offer from Mosul to the martyrs of Dhi Qar and Najaf,” said dental student Zahraa Ahmed, two cities where about 70 protesters have been killed in the past three days.

“The demonstrators are demanding basic rights, and the government should have responded from the start.”

“We are here and all of Iraq is there,” said Hussein Khidr, a student at the College of Education.

In the predominantly Sunni province of Salah al-Din north of Baghdad, there have been no protests in recent weeks, but its local government declared three days of mourning for the victims of the south.

Meanwhile, eight southern provinces, which are predominantly Shiite, declared mourning and stopped working in government departments on Sunday.

In the meantime, protesters continued to demonstrate in all southern cities, according to an AFP correspondent, saying that the resignation of the prime minister is not a complete departure of the political system installed by the United States after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, and controlled by Iran.

Changing the political class they accuse of corruption and evaporating the equivalent of twice the gross domestic product of Iraq, one of the world’s richest oil countries, has become a prerequisite for protesters who are now chanting in all cities their refusal to remain “corrupt” and “all politicians” present.

– Tension in Najaf –

The clashes in the holy Shiite city of Najaf, where live shots were fired on protesters Wednesday night who burned the Iranian consulate building there, marked a turning point in the protests.

Since Thursday, more than 20 protesters have been killed in Najaf by gunmen in civilian clothes responsible for protecting the grave of a Shiite cleric. However, protesters managed to set fire to a section of the building, witnesses said.

More than 40 protesters were killed in Nasiriyah on Friday and Saturday, according to medical and security sources.

Despite the repression, demonstrations continued in Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhi Qar province, known for its tribal traditions. The tribes intervened, after the dismissal of a military commander sent from Baghdad to control the demonstrations, to support the security forces to prevent chaos and helped to secure the gathering of protesters downtown.

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