DEMONSTRATORS IN BAGHDAD DEMAND LESS CORRUPTION, BETTER SERVICES

Iraqis protested in their thousands in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra on Friday demanding the removal of corrupt officials and the dissolution of parliament. 

Thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square in downtown Baghdad carrying banners protesting at what they called widespread corruption in government offices, and demanding corrupt officials be put on trial. 

"For the second Friday the spokesman of the Maarjiiaa demanded the reform of judiciary, because the judicature in our country is bad, starting from the former Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and his government cabinet are all corrupt, with evidence, without any exception, and there is no punishment," said one protester. 

In Basra, over five thousand people, some waving banners, protested in front of the governor's office to demand a solution to long-running problems such as power cuts. 

"Since the local government in its two sections the executive and legislative didn't respond to our demands, now we call for discharging the governor and the provincial council of Basra, and Abadi should form a temporary government until new elections,” one protestor said. 

“Protests and sit-ins are continuing, and I think in the coming days there will be a different thing to happen with bad consequences, there might be civil disobedience, and the increase of protests and that's not a good thing for Basra and the government in general.” 
The protests came as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered reforms which eliminate entire layers of government, scrap sectarian and party quotas for state positions, reopen corruption investigations and give the premier the power to fire regional and provincial bosses. 

The governing system set up under the U.S/UK. occupation included numerous overlapping senior posts, many set aside to be divvied up on ethnic and sectarian grounds among Iraq's majority Shia and minority Sunni Muslims and Kurds. 

That was intended to reduce strife by keeping the government inclusive. 

But Abadi, a Shia, complained it encouraged ethno-sectarian party patronage, spawning corruption and incompetence so pervasive it made Iraq nearly impossible to govern. 

(Reuters)

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