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  • The avenues of the southern cities are still blocked, as were as entrances to schools, universities and government buildings

    The avenues of the southern cities are still blocked, as were as entrances to schools, universities and government buildings | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 December 2019
Opinion

Iraqi protesters are demanding not only a new electoral law, but also the removal of the entire political class and an independent, non-partisan prime minister.

The Iraqi parliament has passed a new election law, a key demand of protesters for fairer elections, but the political deadlock continues to delay the selection of an interim prime minister.

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Since October, mass protests have taken place in Iraq and the protesters are demanding an overhaul of a political system they consider deeply corrupt and which keeps most Iraqis in poverty, so far, over 450 people have been killed.

The new electoral law passed by parliament on Tuesday will allow voters to choose individual legislators instead of party lists, and for each member of parliament to represent a specific constituency rather than groups of legislators representing entire provinces.

But the protesters are demanding not only a new electoral law, but also the removal of the entire political class and an independent, non-partisan prime minister.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned last month under pressure from street demonstrations, but has remained in office as a provisional.

Negotiations over a candidate to replace him have been stalled since the last of a series of deadlines expired at midnight on Sunday.

The protesters gathered on Tuesday in Baghdad's iconic Tahrir Square, where they made clear their opposition to the names the government has released for the post of prime minister.

The main avenues and roads in the country's southern cities, the epicenter of the months-long protest movement, were blocked, as were entrances to schools, universities and government buildings.

For many protesters, the system installed by the U.S. after it led a military coalition to overthrow longtime leader Saddam Hussein in 2003 has become too much of a debt to Iran and is beyond reform.

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