Iraqis end Green Zone protests after issuing demands

Loudspeakers manned by followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced the disbanding of the protests

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Anti-government protesters temporarily ended their mass demonstration in Baghdad's Green Zone on Sunday and began an orderly withdrawal a day after tearing down walls around the government district and invading parliament.

Loudspeakers manned by followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has led the protest movement, announced the disbanding of the protests, which had marked the culmination of months of sit-ins and demonstrations demanding the overhaul of a political system widely seen as corrupt and ineffectual.

"We decided to end it now because of the anniversary of Imam (Moussa) al-Kadhim," said Sadiq al-Hashemi, a representative of al-Sadr's office in Baghdad who was present at the protests.

Al-Hashemi said al-Sadr made the decision in order to allow Iraqi security forces to protect the thousands of pilgrims who are expected to walk from across Iraq to the shrine of the 8th-century Imam in Baghdad.

Speaking to Al Arabiya News Channel from Iraq, Awad Al-Awadi, a deputy in the Iraqi parliament representing the Al-Ahrar bloc of the Sadrist Movement, said that a pending solution "depends on the political blocs first."

"A solution depends on the political blocs, first, and depends on the courage of the head of the government, and parliament speaker. The parliament speaker today said he would dot the i's and cross the t's towards reform. To achieve reform, the political blocs should abandon their gains, and quotas, and their ministers," he told Al Arabiya.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered authorities to arrest and prosecute those among the protesters who had attacked security forces, lawmakers and damaged state property after breaking into the Green Zone.

Videos on social media had showed a group of young men surrounding and slapping two Iraqi lawmakers as they attempted to flee the crowd, while other protesters mobbed lawmakers' motorcades.

Jubilant protesters were also seen jumping and dancing on the parliament's meeting hall tables and chairs and waving Iraqi flags. No one was seriously wounded. The protesters left parliament late Saturday and had been rallying in a nearby square.

"We are fed up, we are living a humiliated life," Rasool Hassan, a 37-year old father of three told The Associated Press from inside the Green Zone before the protest was disbanded.

(With AP)