Iraqi cleric and political leader Moqtada al-Sadr held a protest rally of about 200,000 at the entrance to the Baghdad Green Zone. The protesters demanded better services and an end to corruption within the government.
|Al-Sadr called for the overthrow of the "government of corruption" of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. After mass protests last summer Abadi promised political and economic reforms but was unable to carry them through due to legal challenges and resistance to any change. Just last month, Adadi vowed he would replace ministers who were appointed on the basis of political affiliation but has mostly been unable to do so.|
"Everybody is watching Abadi drag his feet in carrying out real reforms.... Moqtada al-Sadr is now trying to take the imitative and be the winner in the reform race”.The Friday protest follows an earlier one in late February that saw a turnout of about 100,000. Abadi blamed the lack of reforms on political blocs who prevented them. Muhanad al-Gharrawi, a Sadr aide who led the protests said:
"Today we are here to call for major reform. We want a technocratic government that serves Iraq’s interests. We won’t accept a solution to be like morphine used only to tranquilize the anger of people."Abadi is already under fire from other factions. He may be forced to step down resulting in elections.