Selin ATAY-TDO-Iraq’s parliament speaker pledged Saturday that if authorities do not respond to protesters’ demands then he will join their ranks.

“If the demands of the protesters are not met, I will take to the street along with them,” Mohammed al-Halbousi told reporters in the capital Baghdad, calling on the protesters’ representatives to attend the next session of parliament to discuss their demands.

Halbousi urged them not to clash with security forces but to continue demanding their legitimate rights.

He also promised to fight corruption, saying: “The disaster of corruption is no different than terrorism. We will fight the snakeheads of corruption” Also, he asked the government to identify the names of the corruption ringleaders to be held to account.

Halbousi also assured the protesters that money has been allocated for building around 100,000 houses, a project he said would offer employment to around a million people.“Higher education graduates will be given higher opportunities and personnel recruitment will start,” he said, adding that over a million low-income families will be financially supported by parliament.

On Saturday, Iraq’s government engaged in talks with the protesters’ representatives for the first time in an effort to end the wave of demonstrations that has killed scores in the country since Tuesday. Protesters are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi as well as improvements in living conditions and an end to corruption.

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