MOSUL, Iraq (Kurdistan24) – Iraqi security forces on Saturday fired tear gas at thousands of protesters near the fortified Green Zone, a community where foreign embassies and government buildings are located.
The protesters were supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, an influential Iraqi Shia cleric, calling for the change of the electoral commission staff who will supervise the provincial elections set to take place in September.
“The next move will be up to the people,” Mohammed al-Kaabi, a representative for Sadr, revealed.
He also warned of an escalation of measures if the government did not fulfill their demands.
Moreover, security forces sealed off routes leading to the capital’s fortified Green Zone after the protests.
The Shia cleric said members of the election mission were not suited to hold fair votes in Iraq.
According to the organizers of the protest, over 20 people had been injured as Kurdistan24 streamed the protest live showing young people running from white smoke in the Tahrir Square in Baghdad.
The security forces started to fire tear gas after the protesters walked toward the Green Zone where protesters stormed inside last May following violent clashes.
Sadr claimed the electoral commission members were loyal to former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who is his Shia rival.
The Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi repeatedly called on the demonstrators to avoid violent activities.
Abadi asked that people consider the current situation in the country as forces are battling to liberate Mosul, the stronghold of the Islamic State (IS).
Sadr is known for being openly hostile to American policies in Iraq in particular and the Middle East in general.
He is also hostile to the Iraqi groups that have strong relations with Iran.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany