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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - DIWANIYAH - Thousands of protesters blocked roads and bridges across southern Iraq on Monday, condemning Iranian influence and political leaders who missed another deadline to agree on a new prime minister.
Anti-government demonstrators burned tires in major cities across the south, forcing the closure of schools and government buildings, AFP correspondents reported as political paralysis deepened in Baghdad.
Negotiations over a candidate to replace premier Adel Abdel Mahdi, who quit in November in the face of protests against corruption and unemployment, remained deadlocked as a midnight Sunday deadline expired.
While a pro-Iran camp has tried to impose a candidate, Iraqi President Barham Saleh has reportedly put up resistance.
Demonstrators announced civil disobedience campaigns in the southern cities of Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah, Hilla, Kut and Amara, closing public buildings and blocking roads "on orders of the people".
"We are upping our actions because we oppose any candidate from the political class that has been robbing us since 2003," said Ali al-Diwani, a young protester in Diwaniyah.
For Iraqis protesting since October 1, the system installed by the United States after it led a military coalition to overthrow dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 has become dominated by Iran and is beyond reform.
An economic revival promised for 16 years never came, protesters say, while more than half of all oil revenues were siphoned off by crooked politicians and their cronies.
Rallies have continued despite a campaign of intimidation that has included targeted killings and abductions of activists, which the United Nations blames on militias. -AFP
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