Iraq parties, allies debate new PM as violence hits shrine cities

Baghdad, Dec 3 (AFP/APP): Iraqi politicians and their regional allies gathered in Baghdad on Tuesday to discuss a way out of two months of protests that brought down the government, as violence hit southern cities.

Demonstrators demanding root-and-branch reform have flooded the capital and the Shiite-majority south since October in the largest grassroots movement the country has witnessed in years.

Seen as a threat to the ruling elite, the rallies were met with a heavy-handed response from security forces and armed groups that has left more than 420 people dead and nearly 20,000 wounded — the vast majority demonstrators.

After a fresh uptick of violence last week, prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi formally resigned and talks to find a replacement have intensified this week in Baghdad.

Among those attending the negotiations are two key allies of Iraq’s main Shiite parties: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards commander Major General Qasem Soleimani and Lebanese power-broker Mohammad Kawtharany, a high-ranking political source told AFP.

“Soleimani is in Baghdad to push for a particular candidate to succeed Abdel Mahdi,” the source said, without providing details.

Iraq crackdown kills nearly 40 after Iran mission torched

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