Iraq's prime minister to resign after day of deadly violence

29 November 2019, 12:47 | Updated: 29 November 2019, 13:42

Iraq's prime minister has announced that he is resigning in the wake of deadly anti-government protests.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi's announcement was broadcast on Iraq's state television, just over a year after he took office.

It comes a day after more than 40 protesters were killed by Iraqi security forces, and hours after the country's top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for a change in leadership.

Ayatollah Al-Sistani also warned of civil war amid the violence in the country's southern provinces.

In a statement, Mr Abdul-Mahdi said: "In response to this call [from the Shia cleric], and in order to facilitate it as quickly as possible, I will present to parliament a demand [to accept] my resignation from the leadership of the current government."

The announcement gave no indication of a specific time frame, but parliament is due to convene on Sunday.

Celebrations erupted in Baghdad's Tahrir Square after the announcement, where anti-government protesters have been camped out for almost two months.

On Friday, attacks in the southern city of Nasiriyah killed three protesters, while injuring eight more, leading to the United Nations saying it was deeply concerned and reiterating its call for Iraqi security forces to show "maximum restraint" on protesters.

Iraq has been in midst of anti-government protests for weeks, with an estimated 400 mostly peaceful activists being killed.

Protesters are angry with the level of corruption, the poor performance of the economy and the lack of public services in Iraq.

Many people in the country face frequent power outages, and end up using privately funded generators to keep the lights on.

Protesters are not just calling for government resignations, but widespread changes to the way the country is run.

Mr Abdul-Mahdi had previously offered the activists a reform and re-shuffle package - but this was rejected.