And the Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported that the protesters then stormed the parliament building. Videos circulating on social media appeared to show people waving the Iraqi flag as they walked past security through the doors of Parliament.
At least 125 people have been infected, including 100 civilians and 25 military personnel, according to the country’s health ministry.
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) described the recent escalation in tensions as “extremely worrying.”
“Voices of reason and wisdom are essential to prevent further violence. All actors are encouraged to de-escalate for the benefit of all Iraqis,” the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq said in a tweet.
Outgoing Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi urged protesters to be “calm, patient and rational” in a televised speech on Saturday.
Al-Kazemi said, “We must all cooperate to stop those who rush from this problem, and everyone must know very well that the fire of sedition will burn everyone.”
The Prime Minister explained that the solution is possible through constructive dialogue by saying, “The dilemma is political and its solution is political, and the solution is possible through sincere and constructive dialogue and making concessions for the benefit of Iraq and the Iraqis.”
The protests began after Muhammad Shia al-Sudani was formally nominated to lead the country on Monday by the Coordination Body, the largest Shiite alliance in the Iraqi parliament.
His nomination followed the mass resignation of Sadr’s parliamentary bloc, a group of more than 70 lawmakers who withdrew from the ruling council last month in an apparent show of force after months of political deadlock.
He added, “If the thoracic mass remains, [in parliament] “An obstacle in the way of forming a government, all the bloc’s deputies are honorably ready to resign from parliament,” Sadr said in a televised speech in June.
The cleric, who positions himself against Iran and the United States, is very popular. His bloc’s success in the October vote threatened to marginalize the Iran-aligned Shiite blocs that had long dominated the oil-rich country’s politics.
Al-Sadr told protesters in the parliament building on Wednesday that their “message” had been received and that they should go home.
“A revolution of reform and rejection of injustice and corruption. Your message has arrived. You terrified the corrupt. Pray and return home safely,” he wrote on Twitter.
The government of the outgoing Prime Minister Al-Kazemi also issued a statement calling on the Sadrist demonstrators to “immediately withdraw from the Green Zone”, preserve public and private property, and abide by the instructions of the security forces.
Al-Kazemi added that “the security forces will be committed to protecting state institutions and international missions and preventing any disturbance of security and order.”
Aqeel Najm reported from Baghdad, Hamdi Al-Khashali reported from Atlanta, and Iyad Kurdi reported from Gaziantep. Obaidah Nafaa from Dubai and Alex Stampo from Hong Kong contributed reporting. Written by Ivana Kutsova in London.