Around 5,000 people took to the streets of the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Sunday, protesting the installation of a British officer to govern the region, reported Aljazeera.
The protests followed the appointment of British Brigadier Adrian Bradshaw, Commander of the 7th Armoured Brigade, to run the city.
Iraqis want to play a greater role
in British-ruled Basra
Bradshaw said Iraqis were currently unable to run their government, reported Aljazeera’s correspondent Mohammad Alsayyed Muhsen.
The demonstrators, who included religious scholars from the Shia holy city of Najaf, demanded Iraqis play a substantial role in the new civil administration.
Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmad Malki, one of the organisers of the demonstration, said, “We demand an Iraqi governor, elected by the people while they are imposing a British governor on us.”
Protesters urged for the re-instatement of the now defunct 30-member Iraqi council in the city of 1.5 million. British forces dissolved the council on 24 May hailed as a model of post-war cooperation.
A local tribal chief had headed the council and was working to re-establish civic order. Bradshaw will now chair the so-called Basra Interim Governorate Committee.
It will be made up of heads of public departments and utilities and will eventually be handed over to the US-led occupation.
“It will be a non-political body with authority to make decisions on technical matters, water, electricity supply,” said a British forces spokesman.