Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has said he will submit his resignation to the country’s parliament after a day of intense bloodshed amid mass anti-government demonstrations.
Abdul Mahdi’s decision, announced in a statement on Friday, came in response to a call for a change of leadership by Iraq’s top Shia leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
“I will submit to parliament an official memorandum resigning from the current prime ministry so that the parliament can review its choices,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, al-Sistani said that parliament, which elected the year-old government of Abdul Mahdi, should “reconsider its options”.
“We call upon the House of Representatives from which this current government emerged to reconsider its options in that regard,” al-Sistani said in his weekly sermon delivered in the holy city of Najaf via a representative.
Abdul Mahdi said he “listened with great concern” to al-Sistani’s sermon and made his decision in response to his call and in order to “facilitate and hasten its fulfillment as soon as possible”.
The developments came a day after more than 50 people were killed by security forces in one of the bloodiest days of violence since the anti-government protests erupted in early October.
Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands wounded since the demonstrations started amid a fierce response from security forces, who have used live ammunition, tear gas and stun grenades against those taking to the streets.
The protests, sparked by widespread anger over official corruption, mass unemployment and failing public services, have gripped Baghdad and several cities in Iraq’s south.
Al Jazeera and news agencies