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Iraq Protests : President Salih calls for national dialogue as denounces soldiers-protesters faceoff

Iraq President Bahram Salih

Baghdad, Oct 8: Iraq’s President Barham Ahmed Salih has on Monday called on anti-government protesters to join a constructive dialogue to put an end to violent civil unrest in the nation.

Salih, addressing a public event in Baghdad, also denounced the targeting of security forces and “peaceful” demonstrators with live rounds of firing, according to ANI.

Xinhua news agency quoted Salih as saying: “The targeting of peaceful demonstrators and security forces with live bullets, and the targeting of media and media workers is unacceptable in Iraq, which we have pledged to be democratic, in which rights and freedoms are respected, and where all abide by the constitution.”

He urged anti-government protesters to join a “constructive and genuine” dialogue within the national framework that guarantees to convey the civilian about the steps of reform. He also urged them to hold daily and direct meetings with Iraq’s youth in different cities.

The Iraq president also stated he backs a “fundamental ministerial reshuffle” in order to enhance authorities’ working, as well as, to activate its process to achieve a “qualitative leap” in its workings to offer public services.

Iraq Prime Minister Abel Abdul Mahdi has on Thursday called for dialogues following the third consecutive day of a mass anti-government protest in capital Baghdad and several provinces.

In a statement, local media on Thursday quoted the prime minister’s office as saying, Mahdi was “continuing contacts” with the pro-democratic dissenters in an attempt to end the civil unrest and “return to normal life”.

The statement added PM Mahdi was ready to hold dialogues with “representatives of peaceful demonstrators to consider their legitimate demands”.

The statements came as 4,000 individuals summoned to demonstrate in the capital, in defiance of the curfew imposed on Wednesday. In addition to the restriction imposed, Iraq’s authorities have also shut the internet service in Baghdad and several other regions.

Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) has called on Iraq to exercise maximum restraint. “Every individual has the right to speak freely, in keeping with the law,” UN special envoy Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said.

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