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Iraq Demonstrators Support Cleric's Threat on Reform

  • VOA News

Followers of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gather for the sit-in at Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, April 17, 2016.

Followers of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gather for the sit-in at Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, April 17, 2016.

Several hundred demonstrators gathered Sunday in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad in support of a Shi'ite cleric who has threatened the Iraqi government with mass protests if Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi doesn't name a new Cabinet by Tuesday.

Protesters began gathering Saturday and warned more would join their sit-in if Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's demands are not met.

Sadr had organized a two-week demonstration last month. He ended it when Abadi tendered a list of new Cabinet members in an effort to combat corruption.

The prime minister is trying to replace the cabinet of party-affiliated ministers with a government of technocrats. But Abadi has faced significant opposition to his cabinet reform efforts from those parties.

Tensions escalated in Iraq's parliament last week after lawmakers failed to approve Abadi's list. At one point, opposing lawmakers hurled water bottles at each other.

On Sunday, Iraqi security forces closed streets around Tahrir Square, causing major traffic jams in the area.

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