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Sadr supporters rally in Baghdad calling for reform

Protesters at the Tahrir Square in central Baghdad waved flags on Friday [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 17 September, 2016

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Several thousand supporters of populist Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for reforms in central Baghdad protests on Friday.
Thousands of Iraqis rallied in the heart of Baghdad on Friday to demand reforms that politicians have been quick to promise but slow to carry out.

Protesters at the Tahrir Square in central Baghdad waved flags and chanted slogans calling for change.

Supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for an end to sectarianism and corruption in the government, which has struggled to provide basic services for years.

"The government is not serious," Kadhim Hussein, a 41-year-old labourer, told AFP, "They made some changes but the most corrupt are still here. They must all go," he said.

Sadr's movement this week called for a mass demonstration on Friday following a lull in what were weekly protests earlier this year.

The demonstration was peaceful, with security checks performed by members of the Sadrist movement and police forces deployed in smaller numbers than on previous occasions.

Protests broke out in central and southern Iraq last year, demanding improvement to abysmal services, curbing corruption and implementing reforms.

The initial movement fell off, but the protests were revitalised earlier this year by Sadr, who drew on his wide support base to stage mass demonstrations.

Protesters broke into the fortified Green Zone several times, storming parliament and the prime minister's office.

Corruption is widespread in Iraq's government, from senior officials to low-level functionaries, and while Iraqis continue to demonstrate for change, little in the way of real reform has taken place.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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