Iraq gets deadline to choose premier

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s president has given rival political blocs a deadline to select a prime minister nearly two months after the outgoing premier resigned under pressure from mass demonstrations, his office said in a statement Wednesday.

Violence continued for a second week in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the popular protests, with security forces using pellet guns to disperse protesters. It was the first time the weapon has been used in the four-month movement in which police have killed demonstrators with live rounds and tear gas canisters.

President Barham Saleh asked parliamentary blocs to select a candidate to replace outgoing premier Adel Abdul-Mahdi by Saturday.

If they don’t, he said, he will select a candidate himself.

“I call on you, as parliamentary blocs concerned with the nomination of the prime minister to resume constructive and serious political dialogue in order to agree on a new candidate,” his statement said.

Several protesters were wounded amid ongoing clashes in Baghdad’s central Khilani Square where security troops also used pellet rifles to repel demonstrators, an Associated Press photographer witnessed.