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Iraq protests: UN calls for national talks
International

Iraq protests: UN calls for national talks

Agency News

United Nations, Oct 31 : The UN’s most senior official in Iraq, has visited protesters in central Baghdad, calling for "a national dialogue to identify prompt, meaningful responses to break the vicious cycle of violence" which has ruined the country during the past five days.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on Wednesday said she had gone to Tahrir Square to engage with the people, and listen to their concerns, as part of the UN’s continuous efforts to promote dialogue with the Government, as news reports suggest that Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, is facing growing calls to resign.

More than 220 have reportedly been killed across Iraq since the first anti-Government protests began at the start of October. Some protesters have ignored a curfew, and are demanding better public services, more job opportunities and an end to alleged large-scale corruption.

In a statement released by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq, UNAMI, Ms Hennis-Plasschaert, said that the whole of Iraqi society needed to "unite against the perils of division and inaction. Standing together, Iraqis can find the common ground needed to shape a better future for all." She also told protesters that "no government could comprehensively tackle the legacy of the past, and the present challenges, in just one year in office."

On Tuesday, she released a forceful statement condemning all violence saying that it was "never the answer, the protection of life is the overriding imperative." She condemned the alarming reports that live fire had been used against demonstrators in the Shia stronghold of Kerbala, causing a "high number of casualties". News reports say that up to 18 had died, with hundreds injured, but officials have denied there were any fatalities. (UNI)