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21 January, 2020 03:50:33 AM

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Iraq protesters ramp up pressure as deadline expires

AFP, Baghdad
Iraq protesters ramp up pressure as deadline expires
An anti-government protester waves a national flag as he stands before flaming tires at a make-shift roadblock during a demonstration in Najaf on Sunday. AFP photo

Thousands of Iraqi anti-government protesters grappled with security forces in a bid to shut streets across the country yesterday, a deadline they had given authorities to implement long-awaited reforms.

Rallies have rocked Iraq since October but fearing they would lose momentum amid spiralling regional tensions protesters last Monday told the government it had one week to meet their demands or they would escalate.

They have called for early elections under a new voting law, an independent prime minister to replace outgoing premier Adel Abdel Mahdi and for all corrupt officials to be held accountable.

Late Sunday young protesters began sealing off highways and bridges across the capital Baghdad and Iraq’s south, torching tyres and setting up makeshift barricades.

They tried to do the same early Monday in the capital but security forces acted fast, with the military saying it had reopened a major Baghdad thoroughfare and arrested nine young men who had attempted to seal it off.

Ahead of Monday’s deadline, protesters also sought to ramp up pressure on the government with pop-up rallies outside of their main gathering place in Baghdad’s iconic Tahrir (Liberation) Square.

Hundreds descended on nearby Tayaran Square, where they clashed with security forces who fired tear gas and live rounds to disperse them, an AFP journalist said.

Young men wearing helmets and gas masks to protect themselves from flying gas canisters erected barricades to try to push riot police back.

EA

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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