BAGHDAD: Iraqi President Barham Salih says the country’s embattled Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi is ready to step down if a replacement is found, emphasizing that a snap parliamentary election will be held once a new electoral law is passed.
“The prime minister announced that he would be ready to submit his resignation if parties agreed on an adequate alternative within the context of the constitution and the law to avoid a constitutional gap,” Salih said in a televised speech on Thursday evening.
The Iraqi capital city of Baghdad has witnessed the largest rally since a second wave of anti-government demonstrations began last week.
Emphasizing that a new electoral law will be presented to parliament next week, the Iraqi president added, “I am personally meeting and consulting with the various parties and blocs to achieve reforms within the context of the law to maintain the security of Iraq.”
“Supporting security forces is the responsibility of all of us. It will be in everyone’s interest that demonstrators succeed in expressing their demands freely and peacefully, and that our security forces succeed in their tasks to preserve public security and prevent those who wish to infiltrate and exploit demonstration [from achieving their goals],” the Iraqi president said.
Iraqi officials dismiss media reports of fatalities during Monday’s anti-government protests in the holy city of Karbala.
Salih added, “The fraternity between demonstrators and forces of the army and security helped turn these mass demonstrations into great celebrations of Iraqi nationalism, where national flags were hoisted and the national anthem was played in streets and squares.”
“Repression is unacceptable. The use of force and violence is also unacceptable. The solution lies in reforms. The solution hinges upon cooperation among all in order to maintain public security and confront criminals, who want to worsen the situation in Iraq,” he said.
The Iraqi parliament has taken steps to meet the demands of anti-government protesters and prevent growing violence in the country.
“History has taught us that the voice of the people is stronger than any voice, and public will is the last. A bright and dignified future for Iraq is the goal of all of us… Given the current circumstances, keeping firearms in the hands of the government is of paramount importance. Weapons must not make their way into the hands of outlaws. There will be no security or contentment without this principle. This helps us maintain security and avoid battles and fighting between armed groups whenever they disagree,” Salih pointed out.
“We affirm here that corruption files will be immediately referred to the judiciary for decision in accordance with the laws in force. This issue is sensitive and has a high priority. Major corruption issues must be dealt with utmost transparency and devotion to law and public rights,” the Iraqi president said.
Iraq has imposed a curfew in the capital Baghdad as renewed anti-government protests enter a fourth day.
“We have already begun a continuous work for a new and convincing election law that addresses the problems of previous laws, and allows for fairer and more inclusive elections in the interest of people… We have also started in presidential circles to sponsor a national dialogue and work to address structural imbalances in the system of governance… The legitimacy of the government comes from people,” Salih concluded.
The ongoing demonstrations in Iraq follow a previous bout of anti-government protests in early October.
More than 200 have been killed and thousands of others wounded since the protests erupted, with security forces using tear gas and rubber bullets against those taking to the streets.