Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi reiterated on Saturday his government’s commitment to holding early parliamentary elections in June.
In a televised address marking a year since the eruption of massive anti-government protests, he said: “We are committed to holding the early elections next year and the government will protect it and prevent fraud.”
The government’s main goal is to prepare transparent, free and fair elections, he vowed, adding that it will protect the polls from “illegal weapons through all possible means.”
Moreover, the premier said the authorities had formed a fact-finding mission to probe the violence that marred the anti-government protests.
“The protesters have set a roadmap and we will forge ahead with it,” stressed Kadhimi.
Holding elections is one of the main demands of the protest movement that erupted last year over demanding the ouster of Iraq's entire political elite, whom they accused of ineptitude, corruption and being beholden to neighboring Iran.
Around 600 protesters were killed and thousands wounded in months of street clashes before the movement lost momentum, then ground to halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The protests helped bring in new leaders, but they are yet to deliver major reforms for the youthful country where, the World Bank says, one in three young people is unemployed.
Protesters announced Friday they were readying preparations for fresh rallies on Sunday.