Iraq's Umm Qasr commodities port shut by protesters
Protesters have cut off road access to Iraq's southern Umm Qasr commodities port demanding government reforms, officials said on Saturday.
The protests have severely disrupted activity at the port, which receives grain shipments and heavy equipment used in the nation’s oil industry.
Dozens of demonstrators closed the port's two main gates on Friday morning, setting up tents overnight Saturday and refusing to let trucks pass or employees enter the facility, said Ammar al-Safi, a spokesman for the state-run General Company for Ports of Iraq.
Security forces have been deployed to keep the protesters out of the port, but according to Safi and a security source, they have not moved to disperse them.
The protests at the port come as thousands of people took to the streets of Baghdad and other southern cities, calling for reform of the judiciary, parliament and local governing bodies.
The demonstrations began last month in response to power cuts amid a sweltering heat wave and helped prompt a sweeping reform campaign by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.