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Iraqi prime minister announces intention to resign following Sistani call

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Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi says he intends to resign in response to a call by the country’s top Shia cleric, who urged Iraqi lawmakers to “reconsider” their options regarding the future of Iraq.
“In response to this call, and in order to facilitate it as quickly as possible, I will present to parliament a demand (to accept) my resignation from the leadership of the current government,” a statement signed by Abdul Mahdi said on Friday.
The prime minster added that the measure would allow the parliamentarians to “reconsider their options.”
“Everyone knows that I had previously suggested this option (to resign) during public and formal statements.”
The statement did not elaborate on the time of an official resignation.
The parliament is to hold an emergency session on Sunday.
Abdul Mahdi’s statement came shortly after Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani addressed weekly Friday prayers in the holy city of Karbala.
The top cleric said the government “appears to have been unable to deal with the events of the past two months.” Sistani called on the parliament, “which the current government originates from, to reconsider its options, given the difficult circumstances of the country.”
Also in his Friday remarks, Sistani called on protesters to “separate their ranks from non-peaceful individuals and cooperate on shunning saboteurs” abusing the peaceful protests.
The top cleric also urged security forces to avoid attacking demonstrations of peaceful nature.
Sistani warned that “enemies and their levers” are planning to “plunge the country into internal strife” and bring the country back to the “era of dictatorship” – in an apparent reference to the rule of Saddam Hussein.
Nearly two months of protests have rocked primarily the capital city of Baghdad and southern areas of Iraq.
The protesters have expressed frustration with the failing economy and have demanded political and anti-corruption reforms.
The rallies have, however, turned into violent confrontations in numerous occasions, with reports alleging that certain foreign-backed elements have been seeking to wreak havoc in the country.
Since October 1, more than 300 people have been killed in the country, according to the Iraqi parliament’s human rights commission.

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