A huge protest against corruption in Iraq turned violent on Saturday.
We demand a change of government...We want honest peopleAnti-corruption protester
Demonstrators demanding electoral reform tried to force their way into Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone, which houses government offices and embassies.
As well as tear gas, rubber bullets were reportedly fired by security forces in clashes that have left at least seven people dead, according to police.
Dozens more are reported injured. Some Iraqi media accounts say hundreds of people were hurt.
“We demand a change of government,” said one protester, Ali al-Saddi.
“We want patriotic people to replace them and start rebuilding Iraq. The elections were manipulated and a sham. Every four years we have the same people. We want honest people.”
The protesters, mainly supporters of prominent Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, want a commision supervising elections to be overhauled ahead of a provincial vote in September.
Rampant corruption in Iraq comes as the country battles to defeat ISIL militants in a US-backed campaign discussed in Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s first phone call with President Trump last week.
The White House said that both leaders also “spoke to the threat Iran presents across the entire region”.
Iraq said Abadi also asked Trump to lift the ban on people from his country travelling to the US – although American courts have now suspended those restrictions.