Protesters: General Strikes Will Follow If A New Government Is Not Formed
Amal Saqar – Yalla – Baghdad
“A general strike to paralyse the country’s operations entirely is the next step for the protesters if Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi won’t meet our demands,” claims Ahmed Abd al-Hussein, a leading organiser of the protests in Baghdad. “We demand Abadi dissolves his current cabinet and forms a technocrat government cabinet distant from the framework of political parties.” The threatened strike would affect public sector and national institutions.
Sadrist Movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr called for protests outside the boundaries of the Green Zone, which is home to Iraqi government departments and many embassies. He rejected appeals for the cancellation of the protests.
“So far the date for holding the demonstrations is open, but we have given the government a deadline of 16 days to clarify its position. If there is a positive response, the protests will end, but in the opposite case it will lead to an escalation where general strikes will be declared,” Hussein added. “Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered the formation of an 18 person committee of specialists to prepare a list of individuals … capable of forming a technocrat government. 100 names of individuals with different specialties have been added to the list so far.”
“We will continue until the current government is changed, our protests are the result of injustice and poverty, and if the government doesn’t change, we will change it by force,” a protester told Yalla.
A Sadr supporter explained, “His eminence Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr has been demanding the implementation of radical reforms for years, subsequently it’s time to take more effective action, we will absolutely carry on until genuine reforms are implemented.”
Thousands of Sadrist Movement followers protested earlier this month near the entrance of the Green Zone in central Baghdad in response to a call by their leader. The slogans repeatedly shouted indicated clearly that the security barriers of the Zone would be breached if Sadr gives the command.
Several political factions have warned of the danger of continuing disagreements among Shi’ite parties and the consequences for the public and the political process.