BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Influential Iraqi Shi‘ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr urged followers demonstrating in Baghdad for a new government to also demand that politicians give every Iraqi a direct share of the nation’s oil revenues.
Sadr’s followers have been staging protests for about a month demanding a new government be formed with technocrats not affiliated with political parties in order to fight what they say is rampant corruption.
As well as repeating that rallying cry, keeping the pressure on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, he demanded economic progress and for the country’s petrodollars to reach ordinary citizens.
“Allocate a share for each Iraqi citizen from the oil revenues,” he said in the televised speech detailing proposals to end graft, improve public services and revive the economy. He gave no detail on how this might be done.
Iraq, with crude oil reserves among the largest in the world, ranks 161 out of 168 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2015.
Since Friday, the protesters have also been holding a sit-in at the gates of the Green Zone which houses government offices, the parliament and embassies.
Reporting by Saif Hameed; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Alison Williams