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    Anti-government protesters take over an armored vehicle before they burn it during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. Iraqi security forces fired live bullets into the air and used tear gas against a few hundred protesters in central Baghdad on Thursday, hours after a curfew was announced in the Iraqi capital on the heels of two days of deadly violence that gripped the country amid anti-government protests. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

    Prominent Iraqi Shiite Cleric Calls for Government Resignation, Snap Elections Amid Unrest

    © AP Photo/ Hadi Mizban
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr, the leader of the Saairun coalition, called on the government to resign and open a way for snap elections amid anti-government rallies that are sweeping the country.

    Baghdad and other Iraq’s regions have been facing the protests since Tuesday. The protests have turned violent as the security forces used live ammunition, water cannons and tear gas to disperse demonstrators. The protesters call for the government to be dismissed. Moreover, they demand jobs, economic reforms and fighting against corruption.

    "I call on the government to hand over their resignation immediately. I also call for an early and fair election, monitored by the international community. We cannot remain silent with all these martyrs and bloodshed," Sadr said in a statement, as quoted by the Rudaw broadcaster, late on Friday.

    Earlier on that day, Sadr called on lawmakers from Saairun, the largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament, to halt their activities in the legislature until the government responded to protesters’ demands.

    Early on Thursday, the authorities introduced a curfew in Baghdad. The measure was subsequently expanded to Najaf, Maysan, Dhi Qar, Babylon and Wasit provinces. However, the protests continued. Media reported late on Friday that the curfew will be lifted starting early on Saturday, however, the reports did not specify the regions where the restrictions would be cancelled.

    Moreover, the authorities blocked internet access across Baghdad and several other regions in central and southern Iraq.

    Crossings on Iraq’s border with Iran have been closed due to the ongoing rallies.

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