The United States has urged Iraq to probe the “abhorrent” killing of protesters, condemning what it called excessive force in the flashpoint southern city of Nasiriyah. “The use of excessive force over the weekend in Nasiriyah was shocking and abhorrent,” said David Schenker, the top US diplomat in charge of the Middle East on Monday.
“We call on the government of Iraq to investigate and hold accountable those who attempt to brutally silence peaceful protesters,” he said.
On Sunday, Iraq's parliament approved the resignation of the embattled cabinet, after two months of violent unrest that have left more than 420 people dead and thousands mourning them in nationwide marches. Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said Friday he would submit his resignation to parliament following a spike in the death toll among protesters who accuse the entire ruling elite of being inept, corrupt and beholden to foreign powers.
Parliament opened its session on Sunday afternoon and within minutes had approved Abdel Mahdi's resignation, which according to the constitution renders him and the entire cabinet a "caretaker government."
The speaker of parliament said he would now ask President Barham Saleh to name a new prime minister.
Just before the session began, another protester was shot dead in the capital, medical sources said.
The formal resignation came after an emergency Cabinet session earlier in which ministers approved the document and the resignation of key staffers, including Abdul-Mahdi’s chief of staff. In a pre-recorded speech, Abdul-Mahdi addressed Iraqis, saying that following parliament’s recognition of his stepping down, the Cabinet would be demoted to caretaker status, unable to pass new laws and make key decisions.
He listed his government’s accomplishments, saying it had come to power during difficult times. “Not many people were optimistic that this government would move forward,” he said. He said the government had managed to push through important job-creating projects and improve electricity generation.