Security forces in Iraq have fired tear gas to disperse protesters in the capital, Baghdad, before a planned march on parliament where the government is set to hold an emergency session to discuss the resumption of deadly demonstrations.
Despite the police’s effort to clear them, hundreds of protesters dug in around Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on Saturday, demanding Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government resign over corruption, mass unemployment and poor public services.
Al Jazeera reported that the mood in Baghdad was tense after security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the capital and several southern cities on the previous day, killing at least 42 people.
There were calls for fresh protests in the south as well despite authorities announcing curfews across several provinces on Saturday.
Legislators are scheduled to meet at the parliament at 1:00 pm (10:00 GMT) to “discuss protesters’ demands, cabinet’s decisions and the implementation of reforms”.
The Iraqi commission for human rights said the death toll from Friday’s protests stood at 42. It said more than 2,300 people were wounded.
The Interior Ministry, meanwhile, praised what it called the restraint shown by security forces on Friday.
“The security forces secured the protection of demonstrations and protesters responsibly and with high restraint, by refraining from using firearms or excessive force against demonstrators,” the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.