The cabinet of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi early on Sunday issued a decree on implementing more than a dozen planned reforms, including land distributions, military enlistment, and increased welfare stipends for poor families.
Starting Tuesday, protests were staged in Baghdad and a number of other cities mainly against failing public services and unemployment. In some cases, the demonstrations turned violent as protesters and riot police clashed.
The government pledged on Sunday that it would create large market complexes and boost benefits for the unemployed, in a clear response to youth unemployment, which is about 25 percent, according to the World Bank.
The plan also includes a wide ministerial reshuffle and the formation of a high constitutional body to deal with corruption cases submitted to the country’s Supreme Judiciary Council.
The Iraqi premier had earlier called on the three branches of the government to cooperate in his plans to purge the country of corruption.
On Friday, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi had vowed to implement plans to generate housing, employment, and health “within a time frame.” He supported the protesters’ demands, promising that the legislature would work on combating corruption, which he said was “as dangerous as terrorism.”
Iraq parliament speaker vows housing, healthcare reformThe Iraqi parliament speaker has vowed that the government will soon build apartments for the poor.
The public sector is still the largest employer in Iraq, home to 40 million people, but it has struggled to employ new university graduates in recent years.
Just recently, local authorities had razed housing units built without legal permits. A total of three million people live in such housing units across Iraq.
Ayatollah Sistani urges Iraqis to avoid violence amid unrestIraq’s top Shia cleric calls on security forces and protesters to avoid violence amid unrest which the Iraqi premier says is being hijacked by certain elements.
Iraq is recovering from three years of war with the Daesh terrorist group. It has also been dealing with the aftereffects of the US military invasion of the country.
No govt. forces fired directly at protesters: Interior Ministry
Later on Sunday, the spokesman for Iraq’s Interior Ministry Major General Saad Maan took part in a press conference broadcast on state television, saying that no Iraqi government forces fired directly at demonstrators during protests.
Maan added that the Iraqi authorities condemned all attacks against media outlets, after reports emerged of raids on the offices of several local and international news outlets by unidentified groups.
Elsewhere in his interview, the Iraqi Interior Ministry official added that at least 104 people were killed and more than 6,000 wounded in less than a week of protests in the country.
Maan further stated that eight members of the security forces were among those killed while 51 public buildings and eight political party headquarters were torched by protesters.