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Iraqi speaker meets protesters
Iraq's anti-government protests first erupted on Tuesday in Baghdad before spreading to other cities [Hussein Faleh/AFP]
DAILYNEWS The Speaker of Iraq's parliament Mohamad al-Halbousi met representatives of protesters in an apparent bid to defuse the political crisis.
Al-Habousi told those gathered that the government would look to roll out a series of measures to curb corruption and kickstart Iraq's economy, including lending money to small businesses and creating new jobs.
Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said the meeting felt like a "campaign rally".
"It felt like he [al-Halbousi] was maneuvering himself into an election that may well come," Khan added.

Protesters take to streets in southern cities: Report

Iraqi officials and a member of the country's semi-official human rights commission said thousands of protesters had taken to the streets in two southern cities and set fire to political party offices, The Associated Press news agency reported.
An Iraqi security official and the rights commission official told AP protesters in Nasiriyah had set ablaze the offices of two political parties in the restive southern city. The two officials said the security forces responded with fire, but there was no immediate word on casualties. The officials described the protest as "very large."
In another southern city, Diwaniyah, protesters marched toward local government offices, AP reported. There were no reports of violence there.

Emergency parliament session boycotted

Al Jazeera's Khan said an emergency session of parliament scheduled for Saturday afternoon did not take place after a number of key politicians failed to show up for the meeting.
"Three major blocs decided they were going to boycott that session because they said the government didn't have an agenda it could implement so therefore it was not worth going to the meeting," Khan said.
"There is a political crisis now brewing."
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