BAGHDAD, (AFP) – Iraqi officials have barred street protests in Baghdad, and restricted approved demonstration sites to three football stadiums in the capital, a security spokesman said on Wednesday.
The decision comes after regular rallies in the city against government corruption, unemployment and poor basic services, among protests across the country following uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
“We have specified Al-Shaab, Kashafa and Zawraa stadiums as permitted sites for demonstrations in Baghdad instead of Ferdus or Tahrir squares,” the capital’s security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta said at a news conference televised by state broadcaster Iraqiya TV.
“Many shop owners and street vendors have called us and complained to us because demonstrations have affected their work and the movement of traffic.”
Iraqis have been regularly protesting since late February around the country, from the Kurdish north to the Shiite south, as demonstrations have swept across the Middle East.
More than eight years after the US-led invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, most Iraqis subsist on around three hours of mains power per day, filling the gap with expensive generators, and most lack clean water.