BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called on protesters on Sunday to help restore normalcy across the country and said the unrest was costing the economy “billions of dollars”.
More than 250 people have died since protests began in Baghdad and the south of the country in early October over resentment over economic hardship and corruption.
Abdul Mahdi said in a statement published on Sunday evening that the protests, which “rocked the political system” have served their purpose and must stop affecting the business and economic activities in Iraq.
He added that “the threat of oil interests and blocking some roads to Iraq’s ports is causing great losses exceeding billions” and warned that these unrest leads to raise the prices of goods.
Work has been completely suspended since Wednesday in the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr overlooking the Gulf and close to the city of Basra, which receives most of Iraq’s imports of cereals, vegetable oils and sugar.
Thousands of protesters blocked all roads leading to the port. On Saturday, police used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protesters and open roads leading to the port, but failed to force them to leave.
The protests ended a nearly two-year stability in Iraq.
Despite Iraq’s oil wealth, many suffer from poverty and have little access to clean water, electricity, health care or education