Shiite cleric Sadr leads 1 million man anti-gov’t demonstration

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BAGHDAD, Iraq—Nearly one million Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad Friday morning to protest against corruption and the government’s backtracking on reform plans, as called by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Gathering in Baghdad’s central Tahrir square the protestors shouted and waved posters of ‘no to corruption and corrupts,”

Sadr who gave Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi an ultimatum last month to carry out his reform plans or face mass demonstrations, delivered a speech to the protesters in which he blamed the government for the current financial crisis.

“This demonstration is the voice of the displaced people and the oppressed Sunnis,” he said over loud speakers. “We disown any corrupt party or personality,”

The cleric said that the current government was not a true representative of his party or people.

In his warning message earlier this month Sadr, whose party has 34 seats in parliament, said that the former government of Nouri al-Maliki was responsible for the fall of Mosul and Abadi’s cabinet must hold them to account.

“Abadi must carry out grassroots reform,” Sadr said in front of the protesters. “Raise your voice and shout so the corrupt get scared of you,” he encouraged the people.

Riyadh Ghali Miftin, a Sadrist MP told Rudaw that the protests were to bring the country back on the right track and the right direction.

According to Rudaw reporters in Baghdad Sadr instructed his followers and protesters not to wave or sing flags of his party or family name and keep the protests nonpartisan.

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