'Respect the law', Iraqi prime minister tells protesters

'Respect the law', Iraqi prime minister tells protesters
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday called for protesters to "respect the law", after they stormed Baghdad's Green Zone and the parliament building last week.
2 min read
06 May, 2016
Protesters breached the walls of the Green Zone and stormed parliament [Anadolu]

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called Thursday for those who want reforms to "respect the law" after protesters broke into the fortified Green Zone and stormed parliament last week.

Another demonstration is planned for Friday and protesters may attempt to enter the Green Zone again, but Abadi has warned that security forces may take a harder line if they do so.

"Those who want reform must respect the law," Abadi said in televised remarks.

"Plans have been put in place to protect the constitutional institutions and prevent what happened recently from being repeated."

The premier's speech came a day after he sacked Staff Lieutenant General Mohammed Ridha, the commander of Special Forces in the Green Zone.

Ridha had kissed the hand of protest-organising cleric Muqtada al-Sadr when he entered the Green Zone during a sit-in in March.

The removal of Ridha may be a sign that security forces that stood by as demonstrators broke into the Green Zone, which is home to Iraq's main government institutions as well as various embassies, will take action against them if they attempt to do so again.

Angry protesters broke into the area on April 30 after lawmakers again failed to approve new ministers proposed by Abadi.

Abadi has called for the current cabinet of party-affiliated ministers to be replaced by a government of technocrats.

But his efforts have been opposed by powerful political parties that rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds.