Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Saturday pledged a major government shake-up as part of a deal to placate anti-government protesters.
“There are popular demands for comprehensive or partial government changes to end the quota system among political powers and make our institutions more youthful and efficient,” he said in a statement. “We will conduct an important government change in response to this.”
The government has struggled to contain widespread mass protests over corruption, access to basic services and Iraq’s political system.
More than 260 people have been killed since the protests erupted last month, with anti-riot police routinely using live fire and tear gas canisters to disperse crowds. Abdul-Mahdi admitted mistakes on the part of the political elite.
“Political forces and parties are important institutions in any democratic system, and they have made great sacrifices, but they have also made many mistakes,” said Abdul-Mahdi. He added that authorities would “pursue all who assault, kidnap or arrest” outside the law.
The prime minister again urged protesters to allow Iraq to “return to normal life” while the government implemented political reforms. He described the protests as the “most important events” in Iraq since 2003, when the US invaded Iraq and deposed the late dictator, Saddam Hussein.
ls/ (Reuters, dpa)