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Iraq's New Parliament Speaker Visits Basra After Violent Protests
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(Xinhua) -- Iraqi new parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi Tuesday visited the southern province of Basra after violent protests over poor public services, unemployment, water contamination and corruption.

Halbousi, two deputies and a delegation of newly-elected lawmakers and some government officials, held a meeting with Basra governor As'ad al-Eidani and members of the provincial council to discuss Basra crisis.

"A committee will be formed from Basra lawmakers, local government and the parliament's chief of advisers to find solutions (for Basra crisis) to be submitted to the parliament before its meeting Sept. 25," Halbousi told reporters at a joint press conference with Basra governor.

Halbousi said that the parliament presidency and Eidani proposed to establish a special fund for reconstruction of Basra, stressing paying attention to the demands and needs of the people of Basra.

"Among the issued that we discussed here is the issue of demonstrators, as we urged the provincial police chief to deal positively with the detainees, who have not been found guilty of carrying out violent acts and burning buildings during demonstrations," Halbousi said.

"We warn of ideologizing the demonstrations which are popular protests in the province of Basra, like what happened in Anbar province in 2013," Halbousi said referring to the protests of the predominantly Sunni provinces in central and northern Iraq, which were used by the extremist Islamic State (IS) group, and led to the fall of large swaths of territory in Iraq to IS militants in 2014.

During the past week, hundreds of angry demonstrators burned the Iranian consulate, provincial government buildings, offices of leading political parties and headquarters of some Shiite militias in protest of wide-spread corruption, poor public services, unemployment and water contamination in the province.

Basra, the province's capital city which bears the same name, has long witnessed complaints among its over two million residents about the collapsing infrastructure, power cuts and corruption.

Water supply in the province is also widely criticized for high salinity, with thousands of residents having been hospitalized.

The protesters also accused the influential political parties of being behind the wide-spread corruption, which led to high unemployment and failure in rehabilitation of the country's electricity, water and other basic services.



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