Wed, 05 Oct 2022

Baghdad [Iraq], August 30 (ANI): Expressing concern over the ongoing protests in Iraq after the supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr and the security forces clashed as the Shi'ite cleric announced quitting politics, the European Union urged all the parties to exercise restraint "to prevent further violence".

In a statement, the EU urged all parties to exercise restraint "to prevent further violence" and invited "political forces to solve issues through a constructive political dialogue within the constitutional framework", reported Al Jazeera.

After Muqtada al-Sadr announced quitting politics on Monday, thousands of his followers stormed Iraq's presidential palace and clashed with the security forces resulting in 20 deaths.

Veteran Kurdish politician Masoud Barzani has also called for restraint and urged the parties "not to resort to the language of weapons and violence in resolving conflicts", Al Jazeera reported.

Barzani, the former president of northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region and the head of the governing Kurdistan Democratic Party, also called on all sides to "think about solutions that bring good to the Iraqi people and take into consideration the general interest of the people and the country".

Meanwhile, Turkey has urged its citizens to avoid travelling to Baghdad and called for "inclusive dialogue" to resolve the ongoing crisis.

"Turkiye is concerned about the developments in brotherly Iraq," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement. It further added that it hoped that the current political conflicts will be resolved peacefully and through inclusive dialogue, and the peace and well-being of the Iraqi people will be ensured.

Earlier, Muqtada al-Sadr announced a hunger strike until the protestors' violence and use of weapons stop, according to media reports.

"Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr is said to have announced a hunger strike until the violence and use of weapons stop," Al Jazeera reported citing Iraq's state media.

The Shi'ite cleric announced his resignation from politics following which the Military reinforcements were sent to the presidential palace as the followers of Al Sadr tore down cement barriers outside the government building in support of the cleric.

An immediate curfew was put in place right after as Palace security was unable to control the mass of demonstrators.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urges all "relevant actors" to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and avoid any violence.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson of the Secretary-General in the statement said that the UN chief strongly urges all parties and actors to rise above their differences.

"The Secretary-General has been following with concern the ongoing protests in Iraq today, during which demonstrators entered government buildings. He is particularly concerned about reports of casualties. He appeals for calm and restraint, and urges all relevant actors to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and avoid any violence," the statement read.

"The Secretary-General strongly urges all parties and actors to rise above their differences and to engage, without further delay, in a peaceful and inclusive dialogue on a constructive way forward," it further stated.

Earlier in July, numerous Iraqi demonstrators, mostly supporters of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the heavily fortified parliament building in Baghdad to protest against the nomination for prime minister by rival Iran-backed parties. The protesters were opposing the candidacy of Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for the post of Prime Minister, as they believe him to be too close to Iran. (ANI)

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