English KURDI كوردي عربي
Anbar, Oct. 28 (AKnews)- Thousands in Ramadi and Falluja poured into the streets today to protest against a crackdown on the former officials and members of the banned Iraqi Baath party.
In the past few days in six Iraqi provinces security forces arrested over 300 former members of the currently banned Baath party who were mainly army officials.
Reports said the arrests foiled a coup plot aimed at overthrowing the Iraqi government after the U.S. forces complete withdrawal from the country by end of 2011.
A report published in New York Times yesterday said the arrests came after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was informed about the plot during a surprise visit to Baghdad by Libya's interim leader Mahmoud Jibril.
The paper quoting an anonymous Iraqi official said the Libyan rebels had found secret intelligence documents about the cooperation between the late Libyan president Muammar al-Qaddafi and the former Iraqi Baathists when the rebels conquered government offices in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
Today in Ramadi citizens rallied in two different spots; in Abufiraj, the northern part of the city and in the 20th Street in the center of the city.
The protesters chanting slogans criticized the current government and demanded its dissolution. They also urged the government release the recently arrested people.
Sheikh Ahmed al-Dalimi, a protest organizer in Ramadi, told AKnews beside the release of former Iraqi army officials and officers, the protesters demand the government release the former members of Baath party.
In Salahaddin province alone 140 instructors and staff members of University of Tikrit were arrested and fired on charges of maintaining loyalty for the banned party.
Dalimi added the arrested people did not commit any crimes against the Iraqi citizens 'because a great number of government employees and security forces of the former regime were Baath affiliates.'
Speaking to AKnews, Khalifa Salem, a prominent tribal figure who also helped in arranging the protest rally in Abufiraj called on the government 'to immediately free all the innocent officials and the security elements of the former regime who are arrested without any excuse.'
Another protester, Sheikh Muneem Abdullah, urged the government to 'stop enforcement of Accountability and Justice Law …and random arrests … and instead penalize the spies and the parties involved in the arrest of innocent [people] and their defamation.'
The law prevents the former members and officials of Baath party form for running public elections or assuming posts in the government.
The arrests have sparked a controversy between political parties. Especially members of the Iraqiya List condemned the actions, since many of those arrested were considered supporters of Iraqiya.
Parties as Ahrar bloc (a rank within the Sadr Current of Shia radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr) have voiced support for the move against the former Baathists.
Amir Kinani, Ahrar bloc leader, deemed the crackdown is inevitable for the stability and security of the country.
MP Izzat Shabandar of Maliki's State of Law Coalition (SLC) said those arrested were campaigning for the revival of the Baath party and releasing them would be "unconstitutional and illegal".
The arrest of university instructors in Salahaddin province paved the way for its provincial council to declare regional autonomy yesterday. Today hundreds in the province took into streets to support the decision.
Saleh Mutlag, an al-Iraqiya leader who is also deputy PM, took Maliki responsible for the decision.
Earlier a dispute between Maliki and Mutlag over the arrests led PM leave the session of ministers in anger. Mutlag vowed if the arrests are not stopped he will stir the public against Maliki's government.
By Anwar Msrbat