UN urges reform amid escalation in anti-gov't protests in Iraq

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-20 18:24:28|Editor: mingmei
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BAGHDAD, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Special Representative of UN secretary-general for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on Monday urged the Iraqi authorities for a renewed push for reform.

She expressed her concern about violence during the ongoing anti-government protests over corruption, lack of jobs and public services.

"Two months after Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced his resignation, political leaders remain unable to agree on the way forward. It is now high time to put these words into action and to avoid further derailing of these protests by those pursuing their own objectives," Hennis-Plasschaert, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), said in a statement.

The top UN envoy for Iraq urged the Iraqi authorities to do everything to protect peaceful demonstrators. She also called on protesters to remain peaceful, avoiding counterproductive violence and destruction of property, according to the statement.

The statement came amid escalation in demonstrations as hundreds of demonstrators have been holed up in a sit-in protest for more than three months in downtown Baghdad.

Iraqi security forces intensified security measures and clashed with demonstrators in several areas in Baghdad, the official said.

The latest escalation in protests started on Sunday night, hours before the end of a week deadline put previously by the demonstrators for the political blocs to come up with a new government.

On Jan. 13, demonstrators in Nasriyah, the capital of Dhi Qar province, and other Iraqi cities announced a period of one week for the political blocs to form a new government to replace the government of caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, otherwise the protesters would totally block main roads across Iraq and close the government institutions.

Mass anti-government demonstrations have continued in Baghdad and other cities in central and southern Iraq since early October, demanding comprehensive reform, fight against corruption, better public services and more job opportunities.