Iraqi police move to block protests over power shortages
Authorities in the southern Iraqi province of Dhi Qar on Monday outlawed future demonstrations against ongoing electricity shortages in Iraq, dpa reported
The capital of the governorate, Nasiriyah, some 370 kilometres south of Baghdad, saw police go around in the early morning and use loudspeakers to inform the population that they could not attend a planned protest.
"The council has instructed security forces deployed in the province to prevent any demonstration of this kind," an official on the local council told the Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
However, Sajad al-Asadi, head of the security committee on the local council of Nasiriyah, denied that the civilian authorities had ordered the police to warn against attending the protests.
He noted that while an electricity crisis persisted, talks were ongoing between the council and the ministry of electricity to resolve the issue.
The southern region of the country is among the hardest hit by the power crisis, receiving an average of just four hours a day of electricity.
The crisis has worsened during the hot summer months, with needs for refrigeration and other devices skyrocketing as temperatures hit 50 degrees Celsius during the day.
Demonstrations in Basra, a district further south, earlier this summer led to fatalities when police clamped down on the protesters. Attempts to hold additional protests there were blocked earlier this month by police.
Damaged and poorly planned infrastructure, along with the absence of a central government since the inconclusive March 7 elections, have all been key contributors to the power problems in Iraq, a major oil producer