Protesters have once again breached Iraq’s parliament in a show of support for influential Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, leaving at least 125 people injured and escalating a political standoff.
Saturday’s demonstration comes days after protesters stormed the legislative body and suspended a session to nominate a new prime minister.
Thousands of supporters rallied by al-Sadr and his Sadrist Movement tore down concrete barriers on Saturday and entered the Green Zone, which houses government departments and foreign missions, before breaking into parliament.
The scenes followed similar protests on Wednesday, although this time at least 125 people – 100 civilians and 25 members of the security forces – were wounded, according to the Ministry of Health.
Al-Sadr’s supporters threw stones and police fired tear gas and stun grenades.
“We are calling for a government free from corruption … and those are the demands of the people,” one protester, Abu Foad, told the Reuters news agency among crowds of protesters carrying placards with al-Sadr’s photograph and national flags.
The media office of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi had issued a statement calling on security officers to guarantee the safety of state institutions.
“What’s new this time is that they’re not planning to leave until, as they say, their demands are met,” Abdelwahed said.
Demonstrators oppose the candidacy of Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, a former minister and ex-provincial governor, who is the pro-Iran Coordination Framework’s pick for the premier’s post.