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Hundreds Protest Iraqi Lawmakers' Pensions

Hundreds of protesters have demonstrated in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities against generous pensions received by lawmakers.

The protests on August 31 show the widespread anger over monthly payments of thousands of dollars and benefits that go to lawmakers and parliamentary officials in a country where many are struggling to get jobs and basic services.

Police in Baghdad closed most bridges connecting the two sides of the capital on August 30.

On August 31, they blocked demonstrators from reaching their declared protest sites.

Security forces also stopped journalists from covering the demonstrations.

Protests also were reported in Basra, in Nasiriyah and in Hillah.

"They promised us a share of the oil revenue for every citizen, but they did not do so. They promised to enact a legislation to allocate a monthly payment for students, but they did not do so," one protester in Iraq said.

"They promised to compensate us 25,000 Iraqi dinars [about $21] as a replacement for our monthly food basket, but they did not do so. The parliament in Iraq is a business, we call on the president to disband the parliament."

Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan Ibrahim said increased security was aimed at protecting demonstrators.

He said the authorities were concerned suicide bombers might try to attack the rallies.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

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