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Iraq PM says will resign after bloody protests

Iraq PM says will resign   after bloody protests

Baghdad: Iraq's embattled premier announced Friday he will resign in keeping with the wishes of the country's top Shiite cleric, after nearly two months of anti-government protests that have cost more than 400 lives.

Adel Abdel Mahdi's written statement was greeted with cheers and blaring music across Baghdad's iconic

Tahrir (Liberation) Square, where crowds have amassed since early October against a ruling class deemed corrupt and inefficient.

"I will submit to the esteemed parliament a formal letter requesting my resignation from the premiership," Abdel Mahdi wrote, just hours after Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called in his weekly sermon on parliament to replace the cabinet.

The sermon set off an avalanche of statements from political figures in support of a no-confidence vote on the government, before the prime minister's announcement.

Celebrations broke out in Tahrir, where young protesters dropped the stones they were preparing to

throw at riot police and began dancing, an AFP photographer said.

"It's our first victory, and we're hoping for many more," shouted one demonstrator as the three-wheeled tuk-tuk vehicles used to ferry casualties pumped patriotic music into the square. "It's also a victory for the martyrs who fell," he said.

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