Iraq demos go on after five deaths


Protesters continue to gather across Iraq despite the deaths of five demonstrators (AP)

Protesters calling for a provincial governor to resign have blocked a bridge in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, as demonstrations against the government continue across the country.

In the wake of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, frustrated Iraqis have staged repeated protests across the country, but at least five people have been killed this week after demonstrations in two cities turned violent.

About 1,000 people rallied in Basra on Friday to demand better services from the government, jobs and improved pensions.

They shouted slogans insisting that the demonstration is peaceful, but warning protests in future might not be.

“We’re living in miserable conditions, no electricity, dirty muddy streets. We have to make changes. We should not be silent,” said protester Qais Jabbar.

The 32-year-old father-of-three said despite a college degree, he works as a taxi driver and shares a small house with his three brothers and their families in eastern Baghdad.

Basra is the hub of Iraq’s oil industry and the country has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, but residents complain that little of the oil wealth has trickled down to the city’s inhabitants.

The autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq enjoys more economic success than the rest of the country but that has not stopped protests there. In a demonstration on Thursday in Sulaimaniyah, two people were killed and 47 injured when Kurdish security guards opened fire on protesters demanding political reforms.

Many Kurds complain that the two dominant political parties in the Kurdish region have a stranglehold on jobs and the economy.

President Massoud Barzani vowed to investigate the issue and called for calm.

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