Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi promised justice for demonstrators killed and harmed by security forces in a state address on Saturday.
"I pledge to God and to the generous Iraqi people that I will do my best to serve this country and I promise you that the blood of the demonstrators and our security forces will not go in vain,” he said.
“The aggressors and criminals will be held accountable and will be brought to justice. The state's weapon will not be held against the people. The state's weapon is to protect the people, maintain borders, and promote national dignity," he added.
The former communications minister further promised to hold early elections - a key demand of the protests.
“I pledge to protect the electoral process and stand against any interference that might affect the integrity, fairness, and transparency of its results and to restore the public's confidence in it," he added.
Within minutes of the announcement of Allawi’s appointment, Baghdad's main protest camp in Tahrir Square erupted with chants of "Allawi is rejected, Allawi is rejected!"
Demonstrators also hit the streets in the holy city of Najaf, pledging to escalate their movement further as Allawi was not the independent they had long demanded.
"Mohammad Allawi's nomination came with the approval of the same corrupt political blocs we've been protesting against for over four months," said lawyer Hassan Mayahi, marching in the southern hotspot of Diwaniyah.
And in Nasiriyah, whose non-stop protests have made it Baghdad's sister city in the anti-government movement, demonstrators sealed off two bridges with burning tyres in outrage at Allawi's nomination.
Over 600 protesters have died under fire from security forces, according to a recent toll by Amnesty. Authorities and pro-government militias have used live bullets and military-grade tear gas since the mass movement began on 1 October.
Thousands had taken to the streets to decry corruption, endemic unemployment and poor public services.
Allawi was named prime minister-designate by rival Iraqi factions after weeks of political deadlock.
Parliament is expected to put his candidacy to a vote in the next session once a formal letter declaring Allawi as a nominee from the president is submitted, after which he has 30 days to formulate a government programme and select a cabinet.
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