Baghdad entrances sealed amid budget protests


Iraqis shout slogans during an anti-government protest at the end of Friday prayers in the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, 150 miles north of Baghdad on February 8, 2013.



Entrances to Baghdad were sealed by security forces Tuesday during protests to demand the approval of Iraq's state budget.

According to Al Arabiya, an official said the security measures were to "prevent the entrance of strangers and to control the security situation." The official also noted that there was a sit-in held by supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in central Baghdad's Tahrir Square, calling for parliament to pass the budget.

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Protests regarding the 2013 budget vote, which has been repeatedly postponed, have been happening in other parts of the city as well.

CNN reported that protesters are demanding the $115 billion budget that was approved by Iraq's cabinet in October move forward. The draft legislation still needs to pass, but political party leaders cannot seem to come to an agreement.

Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman told CNN the main issue is the amount allocated to oil service companies working in the Kurdistan region. Iraq, which has the world's fourth-largest oil reserve, is dependent on oil revenues to fund more than 90 percent of its budget.