Friday, 19 August, 2022

Tea, hot meals at Iraq parliament as protesters settle in

Volunteers shuttled back and forth in fleets of pickups to Iraq's normally secure Green Zone Saturday as protesters who occupied parliament earlier in the day settled in for the long haul.

The thousands of demonstrators who had overwhelmed the barriers protecting the compound camped out inside and outside parliament as supporters delivered hot meals and bottles of cold water.

One man lit a fire to warm some tea while another offered cigarettes for sale -- all as Iraqi security forces watched on, an AFP correspondent reported.

Inside the parliament building, some protesters sat at lawmakers' desks while others milled about, raising their mobile phones to film the occupation.

The devout recited religious chants marking the Muslim month of Muharram, which starts on Sunday and is a key period in the Shiite religious calendar.

In the gardens outside, protesters pitched a large camouflage tent by the entrance as women with children joined other supporters of mercurial Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr in setting up camp.

The immediate trigger for the Sadrists' storming of parliament was a rival Shiite bloc's nomination of a candidate for the premiership.