Reuters reports: Protesters camped out in Baghdad’s Green Zone for 24 hours left the heavily fortified government district on Sunday after issuing demands for political reform but they pledged to return by the end of the week to keep up the pressure.
Iraq has endured months of wrangling prompted by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s attempt to replace party-affiliated ministers with technocrats as part of an anti-corruption drive. A divided parliament has failed to approve the proposal amid scuffles and protests.
Deep frustration over the deadlock culminated in a dramatic breach on Saturday of the Green Zone by supporters of powerful Shi’ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Sadr wants to see Abadi’s proposed technocrat government approved, ending a quota system blamed for rampant corruption. Powerful parties have resisted, fearing the dismantling of patronage networks that sustain their wealth and influence.
Abadi has warned continued turmoil could hamper the war against Islamic State, which controls large swathes of northern and western Iraq.
The Green Zone protesters issued an escalating set of demands, including a parliamentary vote on a technocrat government, the resignation of the president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker and new elections.
If none of the demands are met, a spokeswoman for the protesters said in a televised speech that they would resort to “all legitimate means” including civil disobedience.
Hundreds of protesters peacefully exited the Green Zone moments later. [Continue reading…]