The Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, has warned the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) against using violence to suppress recent demonstrations."The demonstrations in northern Iraq stem from the KRG's wrong policies. The regional government's duty is to provide security of life and property for all citizens. If the demonstrators are harmed, we will intervene," Abadi said, as he urged the regional government to meet its citizen's unmet demands.
He said the demonstrators' right to protest should be respected and also called on the protesters not to vandalize public property. The protests began Monday in Sulaymaniyah, a stronghold of the Goran Movement and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and spread across other parts of the region. Since then, nearly 1250 protesters, including teachers, students, and civil servants, have taken to the streets. Six people were killed and 93 wounded in violence during the protests. Reports claimed that protesters established some political parties' offices in Koya, Kifri, and Ranya.
The demonstrators are protesting against years of austerity, unpaid public sector salaries and the government's "failure to meet the basic demands of the people." On Tuesday, the KRG issued an arrest warrant for Shaswar Abdelwahid Qadir, a leader of the "New Generation" movement, which spearheaded a popular campaign against the KRG's illegitimate Sept. 25 poll on regional independence.
Qadir has been accused by KRG authorities of inciting demonstrators to attack public facilities "with a view to overthrowing the government." Tension has been high in the region since the central government in Baghdad imposed tough measures after the KRG unilaterally held an independence referendum on Sept. 25 and Kurds voted overwhelmingly to secede. The KRG's "independence referendum" was rejected by the central government and neighboring countries. Opposition parties in the KRG have blamed the government for the "misstep" that dragged the region into a deeper economic and political crisis. Opposition parties have called on the government to own up to its make and find a solution to the problems of the people.
In response to the referendum, Iraqi government forces and Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias launched an offensive on Oct. 16.
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