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Prominent Shi'ite Cleric Calls For Iraqi Government's Resignation

Muqtada al-Sadr speaking to the media in Baghdad in 2016.
Muqtada al-Sadr speaking to the media in Baghdad in 2016.

Prominent Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called for the government to resign and for early elections as protests intensified across the country.

Sadr said in a statement on October 4 that the "government should resign and early elections should be held under UN supervision" to avoid further violence that has reportedly claimed more than 40 lives over the past four days.

Gunfire rang out during the day in Baghdad, as security forces battled and chased groups of protesters trying to reach the central Tahrir Square, which was sealed off, reports said.

The Iraqi capital and other cities have been rocked since October 1 by violent protests against poor public services, unemployment, and corruption.

Two police officers and two civilians were killed by the fire of unidentified snipers in Baghdad, according to the military's media arm.

In a televised address earlier in the day, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, vowed to respond to the protesters’ "legitimate demands" but warned there was no "magic solution" to Iraq's problems.

Meanwhile, Iraq's top Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged both sides to end the violence "before it's too late."

Sistani blamed politicians for failing to enact promised reforms on the economy and corruption, and urged the government to "carry out its duty" to ease people's suffering.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, and the BBC

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