BAGHDAD – Iraqis took to streets this week in the vicinity of the Green Zone in central Baghdad to demonstrate the electoral process and results. Assurances from the Iraqi Electoral Commission about the manual recount of votes were not enough to calm popular anger. During the demonstrations, clashes erupted between the demonstrators and the Iraqi security forces, who fired live bullets at the demonstrators, wounding more than 150 people from both sides.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustapha al-Kadhimi ordered a comprehensive investigation into the causes of these bloody events to hold those responsible accountable. Al-Kadhimi stressed that respect for basic human rights, especially the right to demonstrate and express one’s opinion, are basic rights of the people to which the government is committed. He also called all political parties to dialogue.
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A number of politicians denounced the acts of violence but supported the right to demonstrate the election results, but only in a peaceful manner. Other officials, however, held the Iraqi government and the High Electoral Commission responsible for the violence, accusing them of rigging the elections and disregarding the Iraqi people’s voice.
The United Nations, in a statement, expressed its regret at the escalation of violence and injuries that occurred in Baghdad and called on all parties to restraint, respect the right to peacefully demonstrate, and that the demonstrations remain peaceful.