Iraq’s Unrest: President Urges End to Deadly Protests, Military Admits ’Excessive Force’
By Staff, Agencies
Iraqi President Barham Salih appealed to demonstrators to end escalating protests that have killed hundreds, including an overnight rally in east Baghdad during which the military admitted using "excessive force".
The demonstrations have rocked the capital and Iraq's southern provinces since last Tuesday with protesters demanding reforms to fight corruption and unemployment, before also ramping up to calls for a total overhaul of the country's political system.
Salih addressed the nation and called for a "halt to escalation" and proposed a "national, all-encompassing and frank dialogue... without foreign interference" to chart a way out of the crisis.
"There is no legitimacy to any political process or system that does not work to achieve your demands," Salih said.
Witnesses reported that security forces used tear gas and live rounds, while authorities accused unidentified snipers of shooting at protesters and the police.
Salih said those who attacked demonstrators and security forces were "enemies of the people" and denounced weekend raids on local and regional media stations.
His statement came hours after Iraq's military admitted using "excessive force outside the rules of engagement" against protesters in the east Baghdad district of Sadr City.
An overnight rally there deteriorated into clashes that left 13 people dead, according to security sources.
But by Monday evening, in line with government orders, the military had been pulled out of Sadr City.