Protests continue in central, southern Iraq over lack of jobs, basic service

Source: Xinhua| 2018-07-17 05:44:50|Editor: yan
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BAGHDAD, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Dozens of demonstrators rallied on Monday in the Iraqi capital Baghdad and several other provinces in central and southern Iraq in protest over lack of jobs and basic service.

In Baghdad, demonstrators rallied in Tahrir Square in downtown the capital, raising Iraqi flags and confirming their solidarity with demonstrators in the southern cities of the country.

The protestors raised banners and placards, urging the security forces to stop using violence against the demonstrators who demand their rights of better public services.

Some banners read "No to violence against demonstrators" and "Public services are rights guaranteed by the Constitution for all Iraqis."

"The demonstrators pledged to continue to protest until the government meets their demands," Ali Akram, one of the protestors, told Xinhua.

In Iraq's southern oil hub of Basra, dozens of people rallied near the provincial government building in the center of the city, protesting over the shortage of electricity and drinking water, as well as lack of jobs, a local journalist told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

There was no violence reported during the demonstration, the source said.

In southeast of Basra city, some 550 km south of Baghdad, about 200 protesters gathered at the main entrance to Iraq's Siba natural gas field, demanding jobs for the people of Basra who are suffering unemployment, the source added.

The demonstration did not affect the production operations at the gas field, which is run by Kuwait Energy PLC.

Unlike the previous days, Basra was calm and the security situation was under control despite the protests.

In the holy Shiite city of Karbala, some 110 km south of Baghdad, the security forces fired bullets in the air to disperse dozens of demonstrators gathered in the city center protesting over lack of public services and demanding accountability of the corrupt, a local security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The protests continued for the ninth day despite a series of measures taken by the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi aimed at quelling the street anger.

The measures included allocating 3.5 trillion Iraqi dinars (3 billion U.S. dollars) to carry out several major projects for public services, such as electricity and water facilities, in addition to providing thousands of jobs in the government institutions.

Meanwhile, Abadi, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi forces, issued an order of high alert for the security forces in the central and southern provinces in response to the protests.

On Saturday, Iraq's National Security Council warned that the ongoing demonstrations could be misled to sabotage of institutions and destabilization of state security.

The protests turned violent on Thursday at the entrance of the West Qurna-2 oil field as some protesters shoved the armed guards. A guard opened fire, wounding two protesters.

On July 8, a protester was killed and three others wounded when local police opened fire at a crowd of demonstrators in West Qurna-2, some 80 km north of Basra.

According to the state-run Iraqiya channel, four demonstrators have been killed and about 140 others wounded since the start of protests in southern Iraq until Sunday, citing reports from the Iraqi Health Ministry.

The demonstrators accused the influential parties of being behind the wide-spread corruption that led to high rates of unemployment and failure in rehabilitation of the country's electricity, water and other basic services.