In a speech delivered at dawn, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi has said he will respond to "rightful demands" by anti-government protesters. His speech came after three days of deadly unrest.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Friday described calls by anti-government protesters to put an end to government corruption "rightful" in a speech aimed at restoring calm after days of civil unrestin which at least 44 people have now reportedly died.
"Your demands for reforms and the fight against corruption have reached us," he said in his dawn speech.
"Demands to fight corruption and concern for the future of young people are rightful demands and we will respond to every legitimate request," he added, promising that his government would not make "empty promises."
At the same time, he used his televised address to call on protesters not to follow any "advocates of despair" and not to allow peaceful protests to turn violent.
In a seeming concession to protesters, a governmental anti-corruption body, the Higher Council for Corruption Combat, has ordered the dismissal of 1,000 employees at state institutions who have been convicted of wasting or embezzling public money, according to the official INA news agency.
Abdul-Mahdi also pledged to try and pass a law granting a basic income to poor families, while admitting that there was no "magic solution" to the graft and poor governance rampant in the country.
For three days, demonstrators, many of them university students, have been protesting against perceived corruption in government and a lack of basic services and employment possibilities, despite the revenue generated by the country's rich oil reserves.
According to the World Bank, the country has a high youth unemployment of around 25%. Iraq is ranked as the 12th most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International.
Abdul-Mahdi's government, which has been in office for a year, has failed to bring stability and order to the war-ravaged country as it grapples with the problems posed by an ongoing terrorist campaign by the extremist "Islamic State" group. Iraq declared victory over the group two years ago, but it continues to be active in parts of the country.