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Shiites protest in Iraq against security pact

Shiites protest in Iraq against security pact
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After a week of fierce arguments in parliament, today it was the turn of thousands of Iraqi Shiites to make their feelings known about allied troops remaining in the country for the next three years.

The people thronging the streets were supporters of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. An effigy of George Bush was toppled from the exact spot where Saddam Hussein’s statue fell in 2003.

A security pact which would allow Washington to keep its troops in Iraq until 2011 is presently making its way through parliament.

But all week, opposition members in parliament loyal to Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr have staged angry scenes in the chamber, storming the speaker’s position and scuffling with security guards.

The security pact has been signed by the Iraqi government and the Bush administration but needs to be voted on by the Iraqi parliament next week.