Shi’ite Cleric and PM Abadi Discuss Corruption
Thousands of Iraqis protest in Baghdad and Basra

Basnews views 08.08.2015 11:57

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric has demanded Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi “strike with an iron fist” against corruption, as fresh anti-government protests erupted in Baghdad, Basra and throughout southern Iraq.

As thousands of protesters filled main squares on Friday, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said PM al-Abadi needs to do more to fight corruption.

Abadi later said on his official Facebook page that he was listening to Sistani’s advice. “I promise to announce a comprehensive reform plan…and I call on political forces to cooperate with me to implement the reform program.”

The protests come amid growing public anger about power cuts as temperatures pass 50°C across the country.

The demonstrations in the Shi’ite south – the power base of many of Iraq’s top political parties – and Sistani’s calls for change are potentially serious challenges for the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government.

Alongside the thousands that demonstrated in the southern port city of Basra and capital Baghdad, protesters aired similar grievances at gatherings in the southern cities of Najaf, Karbala, Hillah and Nasiriyah.

Baghdad and other cities have seen weeks of protests about the poor quality of services, especially the power outages that leave Iraqis with only a few hours of government-supplied electricity per day in the stifling summer heat.