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Mourners pay respects to Iraqi communist poet

MOURNERS paid their respects to Iraqi communist poet Ali Najim al-Lami as he was laid to rest yesterday, a day after his assassination in Baghdad.

The Iraqi Communist Party member was shot dead in the al-Shaab district as he made his way home from a protest in Tahrir Square.

The Unions of Iraqi Writers condemned “this cowardly act,” which took place as demonstrations against the Iraqi government continued, despite widespread repression.

At least 450 people are believed to have been killed since protests began on October 1, with more than 20,000 injured, as security forces opened fire with live rounds.

Iraqis are angry at the government’s inability to deal with an economic crisis which has led to rising unemployment and failing public services.

In April, politicians in Basra voted for independence from Baghdad, amid growing frustration at corruption and poverty in the oil-rich province.

Basra produces around 80 per cent of Iraq’s oil, but the revenue is collected by the central government, with locals complaining that the wealth is not distributed fairly.

Protesters are demanding the resignation of the government and a revamp of the political system imposed on Iraq following the US-led invasion and occupation of the country in 2003.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned earlier this month, triggering a political wrangle over who will replace him.

In a statement, protesters have said that the candidate must be an independent without any party affiliation and not a dual national. 

The next prime minister also should not have held any office as a minister or parliamentarian since 2003 and be under the age of 55.

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