Iraq’s top two parliament groups urge PM to resign

raqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks during the first session of the new Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Iraq September 3, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 08 September 2018
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Iraq’s top two parliament groups urge PM to resign

  • Basra has been rocked by protests since Tuesday, with demonstrators setting ablaze government buildings, the Iranian consulate and the offices of pro-Tehran militias and political parties.
  • At least 12 demonstrators have been killed and 50 wounded in clashes with security forces, according to the interior ministry.

BAGHDAD: The two leading groups in Iraq's parliament on Saturday called on Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to resign, after lawmakers held an emergency meeting on unrest shaking the country's south.
"We demand the government apologise to the people and resign immediately," said Hassan Al-Aqouli, spokesman for the list of populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr that won the most seats in a May election.
The announcement dealt a severe blow to Abadi's hopes of holding onto his post through a parliamentary bloc unveiled just days earlier with Sadr, a former militia chief.
Ahmed Al-Assadi, spokesman for the second-largest list, the Conquest Alliance, condemned "the government's failure to resolve the crisis in Basra", a southern city where 12 protesters were killed this week in clashes with security forces.
The Conquest Alliance was "on the same wavelength" as Sadr's Marching Towards Reform list and they would work together to form a new government, Assadi said.
Abadi defended his record in parliament, describing the unrest as "political sabotage" and saying the crisis over public services was being exploited for political ends.
Anger in Basra flared after the hospitalisation of 30,000 people who had drunk polluted water, in an oil-rich region where residents have for weeks complained of water and electricity shortages, corruption among officials and unemployment.
Demonstrators have set fire to government buildings, the Iranian consulate and the offices of pro-Tehran militias and political parties.


Powerful Algerian party abandons beleaguered Bouteflika

Updated 21 min 27 sec ago
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Powerful Algerian party abandons beleaguered Bouteflika

  • The National Rally for Democracy has joined ruling party officials, unions and business tycoons who have abandoned Abdelaziz Bouteflika
  • ‘The candidacy of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a new term was a big mistake’

ALGIERS: An influential Algerian party that was a long-time supporter of Abdelaziz Bouteflika has criticized the ailing president for seeking to stay in power, another setback for the ruling elite in the face of mass demonstrations.
The National Rally for Democracy (RND), a member of the ruling coalition, has joined ruling party officials, unions and business tycoons who have abandoned Bouteflika in recent days, after nearly a month of street demonstrations protests.
“The candidacy of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a new term was a big mistake,” RND spokesman Seddik Chihab told El Bilad TV.
“Extra constitutional forces have seized power in the past few years and ruled state affairs outside a legal framework.”
Bouteflika, who has ruled for 20 years, bowed to the protesters last week by reversing plans to stand for a fifth term. But he stopped short of stepping down and said he would stay in office until a new constitution is adopted, effectively extending his present term.
His moves have done nothing to halt demonstrations, which peaked on Friday with hundreds of thousands of protesters on the streets of Algiers and have continued into this week.
RND leader Ahmed Ouyahia, a former prime minister who had close ties to intelligence agencies, has also switched sides. “The people’s demands should be met as soon as possible,” he told followers in a letter on Sunday.
Leaders have emerged from the protest movement, offering an alternative to Bouteflika’s political roadmap to what he says will be a new Algeria. But they have not built up enough momentum to force the president to quit or make more concessions.
The military, which wields enormous power from behind the scenes, has remained on the sidelines.
Another powerful figure, Bouteflika’s younger brother Said, has kept a low profile. The president has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke five years ago, and the protesters say a shadowy circle of aides, including Said, have been ruling the country in his name.
The protests continued on Tuesday, with students, university professors and health workers rallying in Algiers calling for Bouteflika to quit.
A new group headed by activists and opposition figures told the army not to interfere.
In the first direct public message to the generals from leaders emerging from the protests, the National Coordination for Change said the military should “play its constitutional role without interfering in the people’s choice.”