Iraq's parliament approved the resignation of the embattled cabinet on Sunday, after two months of violent unrest that have left more than 420 people dead and thousands mourning them in nationwide marches. Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said Friday he would submit his resignation to parliament following a spike in the death toll among protesters who accuse the entire ruling elite of being inept, corrupt and beholden to foreign powers.
Parliament opened its session on Sunday afternoon and within minutes had approved Abdel Mahdi's resignation, which according to the constitution renders him and the entire cabinet a "caretaker government."
The speaker of parliament said he would now ask President Barham Saleh to name a new prime minister.
Just before the session began, another protester was shot dead in the capital, medical sources said.
The formal resignation came after an emergency Cabinet session earlier in which ministers approved the document and the resignation of key staffers, including Abdul-Mahdi’s chief of staff. In a pre-recorded speech, Abdul-Mahdi addressed Iraqis, saying that following parliament’s recognition of his stepping down, the Cabinet would be demoted to caretaker status, unable to pass new laws and make key decisions.
He listed his government’s accomplishments, saying it had come to power during difficult times. “Not many people were optimistic that this government would move forward,” he said. He said the government had managed to push through important job-creating projects and improve electricity generation.
“But unfortunately, these events took place,” he said, referring to the mass protest movement that engulfed Iraq on October 1. “We need to be fair to our people and listen to them.” At least 400 people have died since the leaderless uprising shook Iraq with thousands of Iraqis taking to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite southern Iraq decrying corruption, poor services, lack of jobs and calling for an end to the post-2003 political system.
Security forces have used live fire, tear gas and sound bombs to disperse crowds leading to heavy casualties.