Iraqis complain of poor government services as heat rises

By REUTERS
August 4, 2015 23:07

 
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AMARA - Iraqis complaining about corruption and poor services, epitomized by power cuts during a heatwave, took to the streets on Tuesday, underlining the pressures on a government struggling to fend off radical insurgents.

The unrest, though limited and largely peaceful, could weigh down the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi just as its forces are gearing up for a fresh offensive to retake western Anbar province from Islamic State.

Witnesses said hundreds of demonstrators chanted against the government in the late afternoon heat in the provincial capital of Amara, about 300 km (185 miles) southeast of Baghdad, demanding electricity, jobs and government reforms.

Temperatures surpassing 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) across Iraq in recent days have exacerbated regular summer power shortages and prompted the government to declare a four-day holiday last weekend.

Anti-government protests in recent weeks have broken out in the southern cities of Basra, Najaf, Babil and Nasiriya as well as in the capital Baghdad on Friday.

"On top of Daesh, we have to suffer power outages," protesters in Amara chanted, using another term for Islamic State. A few demonstrators carried a coffin marked with the word 'parliament'.

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