News International Iraq's PM orders opening of closed-off area in Baghdad

Iraq's PM orders opening of closed-off area in Baghdad

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered officials to open up to civilians the heavily-fortified area of Baghdad known as the Green Zone.
 
The 10km sq area housing government buildings became off-limits to the public as a security measure in the wake of the 2003 US occupation.
 
It is the latest in a series of steps by Abadi to ease sectarian tensions and crackdown on corruption.
 
Baghdad has seen weeks of protests over poor services and abuses of power.
 
Earlier this month, in a rare show of unity, the Iraqi parliament backed Abadi's programme to abolish top government posts and cut spending.
 
On Friday, the prime minister issued instructions to lift restrictions on the Green Zone. It is not clear when the plan will be implemented.
 
The compound, in the Karkh district on the west bank of the Tigris, is surrounded by concrete walls and heavily guarded by checkpoints and tanks.
 
It houses former palaces of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and was the administrative headquarters of the US occupation authorities. Several foreign embassies, including those of the US and UK, are situated
there.
 
Most Iraqis have been excluded from the Green Zone unless they have special permission, and large bribes have been paid to get round stringent entry procedures, according to AFP news agency.
 
Source: BBC
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