Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. File photo
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's two main backers have agreed to work to remove him from office as protests against his government gained momentum in Baghdad and much of the Shiite south only to be met with violence.
Populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, who leads parliament's largest bloc, had asked Abdul Mahdi to call an early election. When the premier refused, he called on his main political rival Hadi al-Amiri to help oust him.
Amiri — who leads a parliamentary alliance of Iran-backed Shiite militia that holds the second-largest amount of seats in parliament behind Sadr's alliance — issued a statement late on Tuesday agreeing to help oust the prime minister.
"We will work together to secure the interests of the Iraqi people and save the nation in accordance with the public good," Amiri said in a statement.
Abdul Mahdi took office just a year ago after weeks of political deadlock in which Sadr and Amiri both failed to secure enough votes to form a government. They appointed Abdul Mahdi as a compromise candidate to lead a fragile coalition government.
Mass protests driven by discontent over economic hardship and corruption have broken nearly two years of relative stability in Iraq. At least 250 people have been killed since the unrest started on Oct. 1.
The altercations on two key bridges in the Iraqi capital also left at least 44 people wounded, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Both bridges appeared to be calm by morning hours.
Separately, a Katyusha rocket landed near the fortified Green Zone, Iraq’s seat of government, police officials said. There were no casualties from the incident. Last week two rockets landed in Tigris river and a stadium, both near the Green Zone.
The attack was among the deadliest since Oct. 1, when thousands of Iraqis took to the streets calling for sweeping political reforms and the end of Iran's influence in Iraqi affairs. Security forces regularly use live rounds and tear gas to disperse the demonstrations, leading to heavy casualties.
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