- Title: IRAQ-PROTESTS/BASRA Hundreds of Iraqis hold protest demanding jobs and services
- Date: 24th August 2015
- Summary: BASRA, IRAQ (AUGUST 23, 2015) (REUTERS) PROTESTERS WALKING IN STREET CARRYING BANNER READING (Arabic) "THE PEOPLE OF BASRA IN ZUBAIR TOWN'' VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS CARRYING IRAQI FLAGS AND BANNERS VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS CHANTING THE NAME OF SHI'ITE MUSLIM CLERIC, AYATOLLAH ALI AL-SISTANI VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS CARRYING IRAQI FLAGS AND BANNERS AGAINST CORRUPT OFFICIALS PROTESTERS CHANTING (Arabic): "ALL OF THEM ARE THIEVES" PROTESTERS CHANTING: "THE PEOPLE DEMAND REFORMING THE GOVERNMENT" PROTESTERS CARRYING SIGNS (Arabic) DENOUNCING CORRUPT OFFICIALS PROTESTERS CARRYING SIGN (Arabic) READING "ZUBAIR TOWN IS SUFFERING" (SOUNDBITE )(Arabic) RESIDENT OF ZUBAIR, SAIYD QASSIM AL-YASSIRI, SAYING: "Since the fall of the former regime, there are no jobs and no services. The people of Zubair have no jobs, foreign companies come from far away hiring foreigners and the people of Zubair are not employed and are just watching their oil go away." VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS DENOUNCING CORRUPTION BY OFFICIALS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LAWYER, ALI SHWAIYL, SAYING: "People of Zubair have suffered deliberate depravation, marginalisation, and exclusion by the central government and the local government of Basra province. That is what made them take to the streets to demonstrate in front of everyone, to demand their rights." VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS MARCHING IN STREET
- Embargoed: 8th September 2015 13:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA8LN7S5MIXHUY4UHZYBL837LXN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Hundreds of Iraqis gathered in Zubair district of Basra on Sunday (August 23) demanding government reforms, jobs, and services.
Residents of the oil-rich town of Zubair have been facing unemployment and chronic power cuts, in addition to lack of public services.
"Since the fall of the former regime, there are no jobs and no services. The people of Zubair have no jobs, foreign companies come from far a way hiring foreigners and the people of Zubair are not employed and are just watching their oil goes away," said resident Saiyd Qassim al -Yassiri.
The demonstrations began last month in response to power cuts amid a sweltering heat wave.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has since launched a campaign of major reforms.
Protesters carried Iraqi flags and banners denouncing corrupt officials and calling on the government to meet their demands.
"People of Zubair have suffered deliberate depravation, marginalisation, and exclusion by the central government and the local government of Basra province. That is what made them take to the streets to demonstrate in front of everyone, to demand their rights," said Ali Shwaiyl, a lawyer.
Iraq's southern regions, which produce some 90 percent of the country's oil, are far from areas of conflict with Islamic State militants in the north and west, but officials have warned production could be affected by protests in the area - a sign of the growing challenges facing foreign firms operating there.
Abadi visited the supergiant West Qurna-2 oilfield last week to reassure its Russian operator Lukoil after hundreds of people recently blocked some entrances to the oilfield demanding jobs.
A promise by authorities to create new jobs helped clear the protesters on Sunday.
The protesters had set up tents in front of the southern Umm Qasr commodities port, blocking road access for two days.
Separate demonstrations in Basra and other cities including the capital Baghdad have called for basic government services and reforms to a system riddled for years with graft and mismanagement.
The reform campaign is the biggest move yet by Abadi to strengthen his hand, even as nearly a third of Iraq's territory has fallen to Islamic State militants. The central government faces a financial crisis from the collapsing price of its oil exports.
Abadi sacked a third of his cabinet last week, reducing the number of ministers to 22 by eliminating positions or combining some ministries with others.
He earlier eliminated Iraq's three vice president positions, cut politicians' security details and other perks, encouraged corruption investigations and gave himself the power to fire provincial governors and regional officials.
The moves are aimed at reducing corruption and incompetence and followed a call by the country's leading Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to "strike with an iron fist" against corruption.
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