Iraqi prime minister says he will resign: Statement

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Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said on Friday he would present his resignation to parliament so lawmakers could choose a new government, according to a statement from his office.

Abdul Mahdi’s decision came in response to a call for a change of leadership on Friday by Iraq’s top Shia Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the statement said.

“In response to this call, and in order to facilitate it as quickly as possible, I will present to parliament a demand (to accept) my resignation from the leadership of the current government,” said the statement, signed by Abdul Mahdi.

The statement did not specify when he would tender his resignation.

Parliament is due to convene on Sunday.

Al-Sistani urged the parliament to drop its support for the current cabinet.

“The parliament, from which this current government is drawn, is asked to reconsider its choice in this regard and act according to Iraq’s interest ... [to] preserve the blood of its children,” al-Sistani said in a weekly sermon delivered by his representative in the holy city of Karbala.

This development comes amid report that Iraqi Security forces shot dead at least three protesters in the southern city of Nasiriyah, bringing the death toll from weeks of violence nationwide to more than 400 people, mostly young, unarmed demonstrators, a Reuters count based on police and medical sources showed.

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