Tuesday, October 15, 2019 06:22:27 AM
AFP, Baghdad :
The United Nations urged Saturday an end to violence in Iraq, after five days of anti-government rallies marred by the killing of nearly 100 people, mainly protesters.
The demonstrations - which have evolved from initial demands for employment and better services to the fall of the government - carried on into the night in various neighbourhoods of Baghdad and southern Iraq, as authorities struggled to agree a response.
Security forces broke up a mass rally in the east of Baghdad, where protesters faced volleys of tear gas and live rounds fired in their direction, witnesses said.
"Five days of reported deaths and injuries: this must stop," said the United Nations' top official in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.
She described the violence as a "senseless loss of life" and said those behind it must be held accountable.
The authorities accused unidentified snipers of shooting into the crowd and said they were searching residential neighbourhoods for those responsible.
At least 99 people have died and nearly 4,000 wounded since protests began in the capital on Tuesday before spreading to the south of the country, according to the Iraqi parliament's human rights commission.
The mainly young, male protesters have insisted their movement is not linked to any party or religious establishment and have scoffed at recent overtures by politicians.
On Saturday, demonstrators in the southern city of Nasiriyah set fire to the headquarters of six different political parties.
Thousands also descended on the governorate in the southern city of Diwaniyah, where gunfire was unleashed into the air, AFP correspondents there said.
Parliament's human rights commission said Saturday that most of those who have died in the last five days fell in Baghdad, while 250 other people were treated in the capital for sniper wounds.
"We demand clarification from the Iraqi government on those wounded in Baghdad by sniper fire, which is ongoing today," the commission said.
Parliament had been due to meet at 1:00 pm (1000 GMT) but could not reach
quorum, after firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc of 54 lawmakers and
other factions boycotted the session.
The former militia leader threw his weight behind the demonstrations on Friday with a call for the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.
Sadr's movement has the power and organisation to bring large numbers of supporters onto the streets, but at the risk of alienating many of those whose protests in recent days have been based on rejecting all of Iraq's feuding political factions.
Parliamentary speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi had extended a hand to protesters saying "your voice is being heard".
But one protester said late Friday "these men don't represent us".
"We don't want parties anymore. We don't want anyone to speak in our name."
Iraq has a population of just under 40 million people, and is currently the fifth-largest oil producer and exporter worldwide, and the second-largest OPEC producer. Youth unemployment stands at 25 percent, twice the overall rate, according to the World Bank which adds that an estimated 22.5 percent of the population was living in poverty in 2014.
The largely spontaneous protests have presented the biggest challenge yet to the Iraqi premier, who came to power a year ago as a consensus candidate promising reforms but whose response to protesters has been seen as tepid.
"Abdel Mahdi should have come forward with decisive changes, like the sacking of leading politicians accused of corruption," said Iraqi analyst Sarmad al-Bayati.
Authorities restricted access to Facebook and Whatsapp after anti-government demonstrations began on Tuesday, before ordering a total network shutdown on Wednesday.
Political and religious rifts run deep in Iraq, and protests are typically
called for by party or sect - making the last five days exceptional, said
Fanar Haddad an expert at Singapore University's Middle East Institute.
"This is the first time we hear people saying they want the downfall of the regime," Haddad said.
Sadr, a former militia leader turned nationalist politician, demanded on Friday that the government resign to clear the way for a fresh election supervised by the United Nations. His bloc is the largest in parliament, and his intervention sets the scene for a possible showdown with the speaker, who has made his own bid to make political capital out of the protests.
US gymnastics star Simone Biles won her fifth gold medal in the women's floor final Sunday to conclude her "best ever" world championships and take her career record to 25 medals.Biles, who won the beam title earlier in the day, also claimed an unrivalled 19th world gold following her previous ...
PTI, Kathmandu :President Xi Jinping warned on Sunday that anyone attempting to "split" China will be "crushed" as he held wide-ranging talks with Nepal's top leadership and the two countries elevated their bilateral ties to strategic partnership and signed a slew of agreements, including a plan to build a trans-Himalayan ...
WHEN most of the country's public universities are going through a crisis situation at that time fresh unrest that erupted among the female students of Chattogram University has drawn the attention of concerned circles. Newspaper reports said female students of CU padlocked the gate of Jananetri Sheikh Hasina Hall on ...
Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Ankhi Alamgir is such a singer who always gets priority from the audience to perform on the stage shows. She has a capability to enthrall the audience by virtue of her outstanding performance. In fact, most of the senior and junior singers love her lot. Ankhi is ...
Mouni Roy has a made a smooth transition from television to films and is now promoting Made in China with Rajkummar Rao. But just like every actor has to face the brunt of controversies, one seems to have fallen right into Mouni's lap. She's been in the news for allegedly ...
THE number of bank accounts having more than Tk 1 crore in deposit has increased almost three times along with a five times rise in the deposited money in those accounts over the last 10 years. Economists said that such rise in high net-worth population indicated that the rich are ...
Daniil Medvedev won his fourth title of a spectacular year with a thumping 6-4, 6-1 victory over Alexander Zverev in the Shanghai Masters final on Sunday.Victory for the 23-year-old Russian, contesting a sixth final in a row, was more evidence that he is the prime contender to join the "Big ...
Italy became the second team to qualify for Euro 2020 after a 2-0 win over Greece on Saturday, while three-time champions Spain edged closer to the finals despite conceding a stoppage-time equaliser away to Norway.Chelsea midfielder Jorginho dispatched a second-half penalty as Italy, wearing green kits for just the second ...
Joe Biden faces scrutiny over Ukraine, Elizabeth Warren is surging and Bernie Sanders had a heart attack, but recent developments in the Democratic presidential battle are getting minimal attention, swamped by Washington's impeachment obsession.Most Democratic candidates are pounding the pavement in early voting states like Iowa, but they are finding ...
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to brief his ministers Sunday on progress in Britain's last-ditch efforts to strike a new Brexit agreement with the EU.Negotiators went behind closed doors for intensive talks in Brussels after Johnson outlined a new set of divorce terms to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on ...
President M Abdul Hamid on Sunday asked government officials to do their jobs properly staying at their assigned places to gear up the development of local areas as well as the whole country."Do your job properly staying at your respective assigned places. . . If you don't have such mentality ...
THE prices of vegetables, fish and meat went up in the city's kitchen markets over the week ending Friday. Traders said that prices of most of the vegetables increased as the supply of summer vegetables became near end and the winter vegetables started hitting the market. The prices of most ...
AFP, Las Vegas :A pair of pugilistic big men will clash in a cross over of combat sports as former boxing champion Tyson Fury fights Braun Strowman in Saudi Arabia later this month.Fury will make the brief switch to professional wrestling when he fights on a World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. ...
AP, Washington : The U.S. is deploying dozens more fighter jets and additional air defenses to Saudi Arabia, beefing up efforts to defend the kingdom against Iran even as President Donald Trump repeatedly insists that America must get out of endless Middle East wars.Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the deployments Friday ...