Middle East

Iraqi PM announces social reforms to calm angry protests

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Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdis cabinet issued a series of reforms early Sunday after an “extraordinary” session overnight in response to sweeping anti-government rallies that have left nearly 100 dead.

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Iraqis have gathered in Baghdad and across the south since Tuesday to demand widespread government reforms, which Abdul Mahdi had promised to tackle when he came into power just under a year ago.

Early Sunday, his cabinet issued a decree including more than a dozen planned reforms, including land distributions, military enlistment and increased welfare stipends for needy families.

In response to staggering youth unemployment, which has reached around 25 percent according to the World Bank, the government said it would create large market complexes and boost benefits for those without work.

In the southern city of Kut last month, a young Iraqi man died after he set himself alight in despair after authorities seized his mobile kiosk.

Internet blackouts

The public sector remains the largest employer in Iraq, a country of 40 million people, but it has struggled to absorb new university graduates in recent years.

Local authorities also recently cleared housing units built without proper permits, which a total of three million Iraqis live in across the country.

Starting Tuesday, protesters gathered in Baghdad and spread to the countrys Shiite-majority south, defying an internet blackout, tear gas and even lRead More – Source

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