Iraqis loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took part in a rally in the city of Basra on Monday, with police saying up to a million participants had taken part.
The demonstration stemmed from widespread perceptions of the government's inability to provide basic infrastructure or improve the plight of the country's poor, as well as a high level of corruption that exists among Iraqi officials.
The large rally also drew attention to Iraq as it prepares to host a meeting of the Arab League in Baghdad in ten days. That meeting has been billed as a chance for Shiite-led Iraq to increase its prominence in the region, especially among neighboring countries led by Sunnis.
Monday's demonstration in Basra coincided with the ninth anniversary of the US-led invasion that eventually toppled the regime of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Now, Iraqis are growing impatient as they wait for money earned from the sale of the country's oil to trickle through to all levels of society.
"The government must meet our demands to live a better life," Sheik Assad al-Nasiri told thousands of Sadr supporters on behalf of the cleric at Monday's rally.
While Sadr is a partner in the government with Prime Minister Mouri al-Maliki, the relationship between the two has been tense.
mz/ipj (Reuters, AFP, AP)