Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said Friday he'll submit his resignation to parliament, a day after more than 40 people were killed by security forces and following calls by Iraq's top Shiite cleric for lawmakers to withdraw their support of the country's leadership. In a statement, Mahdi said he "listened with great concern" to a sermon by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and made his decision in response to his call and to "facilitate and hasten its fulfillment as soon as possible," per the AP. "I will submit to parliament an official memorandum resigning from the current prime ministry so that the parliament can review its choices,” he said. Abdul Mahdi was appointed prime minister just over a year ago as a consensus candidate between political blocs.
In his weekly Friday sermon delivered in the holy city of Najaf via a representative, the Shiite cleric said parliament, which elected Mahdi's government, should "reconsider its options." Forty protesters were shot dead by security forces in Baghdad and the southern cities of Najaf and Nasiriyah on Thursday, in a sharp escalation of violence that continued Friday when three more protesters were killed and eight wounded by security forces in Nasiriyah. At least 400 protesters have died since Oct. 1, when thousands of Iraqis protested in Baghdad and predominantly Shiite southern provinces to decry corruption, poor services, and lack of jobs. Security forces have used live fire, tear gas, and smoke bombs to disperse crowds; a rep for the UN secretary-general expressed deep concern over that use of live ammo.
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