Iraqi PM formally submits resignation amid more violence

The grassroots movement is the largest Iraq has seen in decades and also the deadliest. (AFP)
Updated 30 November 2019

Iraqi PM formally submits resignation amid more violence

  • The formal resignation came after an emergency Cabinet session earlier in which ministers approved the document and the resignation of key staffers
  • At least 400 people have died since the leaderless uprising shook Iraq with thousands of Iraqis taking to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite southern Iraq

BAGHDAD: Three anti-government protesters were shot dead and at least 58 wounded in Baghdad and southern Iraq on Saturday, security and medical officials said, as Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi formally submitted his resignation to parliament.
Lawmakers were expected to either vote or accept outright Abdul Mahdi’s resignation letter in a parliamentary session Sunday, two members of parliament said.
The prime minister announced Thursday he would hand parliament his resignation on Friday amid mounting pressure from mass anti-government protests, a day after more than 40 demonstrators were killed by security forces in Baghdad and southern Iraq. The announcement also came after Iraq’s top Shiite cleric withdrew his support for the government in a weekly sermon.
The formal resignation came after an emergency Cabinet session earlier in which ministers approved the document and the resignation of key staffers, including Abdul-Mahdi’s chief of staff.
In a pre-recorded speech, Abdul Mahdi addressed Iraqis, saying that following parliament’s recognition of his stepping down, the Cabinet would be demoted to caretaker status, unable to pass new laws and make key decisions.
He listed his government’s accomplishments, saying it had come to power during difficult times. “Not many people were optimistic that this government would move forward,” he said.
He said the government had managed to push through important job-creating projects and improve electricity generation.
“But unfortunately, these events took place,” he said, referring to the mass protest movement that engulfed Iraq on Oct. 1. “We need to be fair to our people and listen to them.”
At least 400 people have died since the leaderless uprising shook Iraq with thousands of Iraqis taking to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite southern Iraq decrying corruption, poor services, lack of jobs and calling for an end to the post-2003 political system.
Security forces have used live fire, tear gas and sound bombs to disperse crowds leading to heavy casualties.
Three protesters were killed and 24 wounded in the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq on Saturday as security forces used live rounds to disperse them from a key mosque, security and hospital officials said.
In Baghdad, at least 11 protesters were wounded near the strategic Ahrar Bridge when security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas to prevent demonstrators from removing barricades. The protesters are occupying part of three strategic bridges - Ahrar, Sinak and Jumhuriya - in a stand-off with security forces. All three lead to the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government.
In the southern city of Nasiriyah, security forces used live fire and tear gas to repel protesters on two main bridges, the Zaitoun and the Nasr, which lead to the city center. Heavy fighting has taken place in Nasiriyah in recent days, with at least 31 protesters killed.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Abdul Mahdi referred to the rising death toll by security forces in his speech.
“We did our best to stop the bloodshed, and at the time we made brave decisions to stop using live ammunition, but unfortunately when clashes happen there will be consequences,” he said.


Rescue mission aids starving lions in neglected Sudan zoo

Updated 5 min 28 sec ago

Rescue mission aids starving lions in neglected Sudan zoo

KHARTOUM: Four lions in a rundown zoo in the capital of Sudan, wasting away from hunger, are undergoing lifesaving medical treatment from an international animal rescue organization.

The plight of the rail-thin lions in Al-Qurashi Park in Khartoum set off an outpouring of sympathy and donations from around the world. At least five lions, both male and female, once inhabited the zoo. One lioness died of starvation last week.

On Tuesday, veterinarians and wildlife experts from Vienna-based animal welfare group Four Paws International conducted medical checks at the park, which has fallen on hard times for lack of money and attention.

Amir Khalil, head of the Four Paws emergency mission, said he was “shocked” by the poor state of the lions, their cramped quarters and the park’s general disarray.

“I don’t understand why no one was given the task of feeding them or how authorities could just overlook this,” he said, describing two of the remaining four as in critical condition, “dehydrated ... a third of their normal weight.”

Four Paws faces a daunting task and its two-day trip has been dogged by challenges from the start. 

When the team arrived late on Monday, customs agents confiscated most of their luggage and essential medicine, citing a lack of prior approval. The group says it’s operating with just a fraction of its equipment, and scrambling to find local alternatives.

Although the group typically carries out rescue missions, it has no immediate plan to transport the animals in Al-Qurashi to better conditions abroad.