Sunday, June 12, 2011

Iraqis protest poverty and occupation

Iraqi protesters take to the streets of Basra, demanding better living conditions and the ouster of incompetent officials as the premier's “100 Day” period for reform expired.

The demonstration was organized by the Democratic Trend in Basra, which includes a group of political parties such as the Communist Party, the Democratic People's Assembly and the Youth Coalition for Change, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The demonstration comes after the end of the “100 Day” deadline requested by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to improve conditions in Iraq and to introduce reforms in his government.

Maliki has backed down from a threat to remove poorly-performing cabinet ministers.

The majority of Iraqis believe the problems stem from the US occupation.

Many observers criticized the demonstrations, saying they are politically motivated and only aim is to topple the Iraqi government, rather than serving the Iraqi people.

The protests for the most part were peaceful, with no police interference reported.

The demonstrators vowed to continue protests until their demands are met.

Since late February, massive rallies have been held in major Iraqi cities, including the capital Baghdad, in protest at corruption, unemployment, the occupation and poor government services.

The Iraqi government, however, has made efforts to stop rallies by slashing the salaries of top officials and politicians.

Earlier in April, Iraq's influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr criticized Maliki's government for imposing a ban on public protests in Iraqi capital of Baghdad, calling the move undemocratic.