Iraqi PM promises reform as protest death tolls surge

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi late Thursday promised a minimum income scheme as the day saw the highest number of deaths during nationwide protests.
author_image Kurdistan 24

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi late Thursday promised a minimum income scheme as the day saw the highest number of deaths during nationwide protests.

Abdul Mahdi’s words came in a televised address days after demonstrations erupted in Baghdad on Tuesday and later spread to many major cities in southern and central Iraq.

Close to 46 individuals have been killed, Reuters reported on Friday, citing medical sources. Thursday saw the highest number of deaths after Wednesday reports estimated 19 people had been killed.

“The protesters have the right to demand an end to corruption, but it takes time for change to take place,” Abdul Mahdi said. He called for “the normalization of life in various provinces,” and “respect for the rule of law.”

The Prime Minister asserted there was no “magic solution” to the problems of governance and abuse of power in Iraq but vowed to try to pass a law that would give low-income families a basic income.

Abdul Mahdi also urged the national legislature to support a cabinet shuffle and called for calm as the unrest entered its fourth day.

“We demand the full commitment of the House of Representatives and political forces to give the Prime Minister the power to complete his cabinet and make ministerial adjustments away from political quotas.”

Speaking to Kurdistan 24, an analyst on Iraqi affairs, Joel Wing, who is also the author of the Musings on Iraq blog, expressed doubts that Baghdad could resolve the situation.

“At this point, it appears unlikely that the Iraqi government could offer something both substantive and that would stop or at least lessen the protests right now,” he said.

“The excessive use of force and the killing of over 30 people, according to AP, has incensed the crowds.” Protesters “went from asking for reforms to calling for the prime minister to resign in just the first day.”

Editing by Nadia Riva

(Wladimir van Wilgenburg contributed to this report)