Iraqi government indefinitely postpones local elections

BAGHDAD

Iraq’s government on Tuesday indefinitely postponed provincial council elections without however citing any reason.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s media office said in a brief statement that the Cabinet decided at its weekly meeting to postpone the elections from next April to a date to be determined later.

The Iraqi parliament decided last month to freeze the work of provincial councils amid anti-government protests.

Protesters have criticized laws regulating local and public elections, saying they serve the ruling parties at the expense of minor and independent political blocs.

At least 325 protesters have been killed and thousands injured in anti-government demonstrations throughout Iraq since Oct. 1, according to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights.

On Saturday, Amnesty International called on Iraqi authorities to rein in security forces to prevent a “bloodbath” in the protest-hit country.

Popular anger has been simmering in Iraq in recent years due to rising unemployment and rampant corruption. Many residents have limited access to basic services such as electricity and clean water.

Iraq’s youth unemployment is at around 25%, according to World Bank figures. It is also the 12th-most corrupt country in the world, according to several organizations that monitor transparency.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat
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