Iraq-parliament-protesters-ordered-jailed-after-siege. BAGHDAD, Shia Muslim activists who stormed Iraq’s parliament in Baghdad have begun to file out of the capital’s Green Zone after over 24 hours of occupation.
Civilian organizers reportedly took to loudspeakers to call for a mass exit after Iraq’s prime minister ordered for their arrest.
Haider al-Abadi said anyone who caused damage and attacked police will to be brought to justice, the BBC reported. A state of emergency was declared following the protest.
Protesters, supporters of the Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, broke through barricades of the heavily fortified Green Zone around the capital over repeated delays in approving a new cabinet.
Abadi called on his country’s ministry of interior to “chase” the trouble-making protesters a day after they penetrated the Green Zone, sending Iraqi politicians fleeing.
Hundreds of demonstrators were still camped out Sunday in the Green Zone, the Washington Post reported. They moved their demonstration from the capital to a parade ground next to it, near the Hands of Victory monument, an arch of crossed swords constructed to commemorate the Iran-Iraq war.
The turmoil has cast doubt over Abadi’s ability to get Iraq out of political crisis, something that has been simmering since street protests against corruption and government waste started last summer. Sadr is demanding an end to the quota system brought in after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion,which divides up political positions based on sect and ethnicity. Abadi has called for a technocratic government, but his attempts to switch up his cabinet have been hampered by bickering in a divided parliament.
Systemic political patronage has aided corruption in this Middle Eastern nation, depleting the government’s resources as it struggles to cope with the war against the jihadist group Islamic State and declining oil revenue.
Last week, hundreds of thousands of people marched toward the Green Zone, considered the most secure part of Baghdad that houses embassies and government buildings, protesting against the political deadlock. U.S officials, worried about the state of affairs, have been visiting Iraq to confirm U.S unity.
Parliament again failed to reach a quorum on Saturday, escalating the protest and sending hundreds of people in to tear down blast walls and storm the parliament building.
By UPI Staff