Iraqi PM to resign as top cleric warns of chaos amid escalating violence
Forty protesters were shot dead by security forces in Baghdad and the southern cities of Najaf and Nasiriya on Thursday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has said he will submit his resignation to parliament in the wake of anti-government protests.
The move comes just over a year since he took office.
The statement, broadcast on Iraqi TV, also comes a day after dozens of protesters were killed by security forces and shortly after Iraq’s top Shiite cleric called on the parliament to withdraw support.
Mr Abdul-Mahdi said he will present to parliament an official memorandum asking for the resignation of the current government.
Leading cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani had warned of civil war amid the worsening violence in the capital and Iraq’s southern provinces during his weekly Friday sermon delivered in the holy city of Najaf.
He also said protesters should distinguish between peaceful demonstrators and those who have malign intentions to co-opt their movement.
Forty protesters were shot dead by security forces in Baghdad and the southern cities of Najaf and Nasiriya on Thursday, one day after the burning of an Iranian consulate.
In a statement, Mr Abdul-Mahdi said he “listened with great concern” to Mr al-Sistani’s sermon and made his decision in response to his call and in order to “facilitate and hasten its fulfilment as soon as possible”.
“I will submit to parliament an official memorandum resigning from the current prime ministry so that the parliament can review its choices,” he said.
He was appointed prime minister just over a year ago as a consensus candidate between political blocs.
Three more protesters were killed and eight wounded on Friday by security forces, who used live rounds in the southern city of Nasiriyah.