Govt Responds to Demands; Possible Strike in Sulaimaniya

A representative of the protesters in Sulaimaniya said the anti-government campaigners have given the Kurdistan Regional Government 48 hours to respond officially to their demands or they will stage a general strike in Sulaimaniya city.

The parliament sent a 12-member delegation to hear the demands of the marchers on Monday, almost 12 days after the outbreak of violence.

Speaking to AKnews on Monday afternoon, Faruq Rafiq said it would be a peaceful strike: “The demonstrators will sit in and block all the streets of Sulaimaniya,” he said, explaining this is their way to “force the government to respond.”

At the national level, on Sunday Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (pictured) gave his ministers a 100 day ultimatum to step up reforms or face the sack.

Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets on Friday to protest against shortages of electricity, food rations and jobs, and called for some provincial officials to step down.

Politicians, who have already tried to appease citizens by diverting money from fighter jets to food, giving out free power and cutting their own pay, were quick to act after Friday's "Day of Rage" when at least 10 people died and scores were wounded.

On Sunday, the governor of southern Babil province Salman al-Zarqani resigned, while parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi called for a new provincial vote within three to four months.

Provincial elections were held in 2009 and are not due before 2013.

A White House spokesman said, "we were deeply troubled by reports that Iraqi Security Forces detained and beat Iraqi journalists and civil society leaders during Friday's demonstrations".

(Sources: AKnews, Reuters)

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