Anti-government protesters in Baghdad shut down roads and government offices in the Iraqi capital on Sunday, escalating a month-long string of rallies demanding political change.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators have gathered in recent days in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and across southern Iraq, shutting down markets, factories, schools and universities in protest of the political system in place since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called for the shuttered places to be reopened, contending that the threat to oil facilities and closure of roads had cost Iraq "millions" of dollars and contributed to consumer price increases in the country.
"It's time for life to return to normal," the Iraqi leader said.
Thousands of students have skipped classes to join the protests, blaming the country's leaders for rampant corruption, high unemployment and poor public services. Syndicates of engineers, doctors and lawyers have all backed the protests.