Protesters re-open road access to Iraq's Umm Qasr port after new jobs promised

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 23, 2015 6:07 AM

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Road access to Iraq's southern Umm Qasr commodities port was restored on Sunday following a two-day closure by protesters after the authorities promised to create new jobs, a port company spokesman and port workers said.

Thousands of Iraqis have protested in recent weeks in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities, calling for jobs, government services and reforms of the judiciary, parliament and local governing bodies.

At Umm Qasr, negotiations with security officials and the director of the state-run General Company for Ports of Iraq resulted in a pledge to create up to 75 new jobs, said company spokesman Anmar al-Safi.

Dozens of demonstrators, who had set up tents in front of the port's two main gates, agreed to let trucks pass and employees enter the facility, Safi and workers said.

The harbor near the oil-exporting city of Basra receives grain shipments and heavy equipment used in the oil industry, but does not export crude oil.

Nearly a third of Iraq's territory has fallen to Islamic State militants over the past year and the central government faces a financial crisis from the collapsing price of its oil exports.

Demonstrations began last month in response to power cuts amid a sweltering heat wave. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has since launched a campaign of major reforms.

(Reporting by Aref Mohammed; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)