Iraq PM resigning after call from cleric
November 30, 2019
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has announced his resignation after the country's senior Shi'ite Muslim cleric urged lawmakers to reconsider their support for a government rocked by weeks of deadly anti-establishment unrest.
Violence raged on in southern Iraq, however, killing at least 21 people, and one protester was killed in central Baghdad as demonstrations continued including a thousands-strong sit-in at Tahrir Square in the Iraqi capital.
Young, unemployed and unarmed protesters have led calls for an overhaul of a political system they say is endemically corrupt and serves foreign powers, especially Baghdad's ally Tehran.
The departure of Abdul Mahdi could be a blow for Iranian influence after Iran's militia allies and its own commanders intervened last month to keep the premier in place despite mass anti-government unrest.
The biggest unrest for years in a country struggling to recover from decades of conflict and sanctions pits protesters from Shi'ite heartlands in Baghdad and the south against a corrupt Shi'ite-dominated ruling elite seen as pawns of Iran.
Iraq's current political class is drawn mainly from powerful Shi'ite politicians, clerics and paramilitary leaders including many who lived in exile before a US-led invasion overthrew Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 - including Abdul Mahdi.
"In response to this (the cleric's) call, and in order to facilitate it as quickly as possible, I will present to parliament a demand (to accept) my resignation from the leadership of the current government," a statement signed by Abdul Mahdi said.