Skip to main content

Iraqi minister resigns amid protests

From Hamdi Alkhshali, CNN
March 1, 2013 -- Updated 2041 GMT (0441 HKT)
An Iraqi boy wears a placard reading 'Baghdad we are coming' during rally on March 1, 2013 in Hawijah, near Kirkuk.
An Iraqi boy wears a placard reading 'Baghdad we are coming' during rally on March 1, 2013 in Hawijah, near Kirkuk.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iraqi Finance Minister Rafaie al-Esawi announces his resignation
  • He says the government has not met the demands of protestors
  • The protests began after his bodyguards were arrested on government orders

(CNN) -- Iraqi Finance Minister Rafaie al-Esawi announced his resignation Friday, a move triggered by daily demonstrations by Sunnis over grievances they have against the Shiite-dominated government, his spokesman said.

Sunni demonstrators in provinces such as Anbar and Mosul have called for an end to what they consider second-class treatment.

The finance minister resigned because the government has not met the demands of the demonstrators to end the marginalization, spokesman Aysar Ali told CNN.

READ: Bombs target Shiite neighborhoods, claim 21lives in Iraq

The protests began in late December when Sunni demonstrators took to the streets in Anbar province to protest an order to arrest the bodyguards of al-Esawi, a Sunni.

Iraqi soldiers fire on protesters

The arrest of al-Esawi's bodyguards came just hours after President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd who was widely viewed as a stabilizing political force in Iraq, left the country about two weeks after suffering a stroke.

The protesters also are demanding the release of detainees they say are being held without charges, calling the government corrupt and accusing it of unfairly targeting Iraq's Sunni people.

The protests grew in January, when at least seven people were killed in shootings during a protest by Sunnis in Falluja.

The Sunni protests have been countered by mostly Shiite, pro-government demonstrations, raising fears that the sectarian division could bring violence in the streets.

Sunnis make up about 20% of Iraq's estimated population of more than 27 million, whereas about 60% to 65% are Shiite.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime in 2003, Sunnis in Iraq have been largely disaffected. The gulf was widened in 2005 when Sunnis boycotted the country's election, opening the way to a heavily dominated Shiite government.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 0732 GMT (1532 HKT)
Beneath a dusty town in northeastern Pakistan, CNN explores a cold labyrinth of hidden tunnels that was once a safe haven for militants.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2249 GMT (0649 HKT)
CNN's Ravi Agrawal asks whether Narendra Modi can harness the country's potential to finally deliver growth.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 0444 GMT (1244 HKT)
CNN's Ben Wedeman visits the Yazji family and finds out what it's like living life in the middle of conflict.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Brazil's oldest foe secures its place in the World Cup final for the first time in more than two decades after defeating the Netherlands on penalties.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Israel has deployed its Iron Dome defense system to halt incoming rockets. Here's how it works.
A high speed train leaves Beijing south railway station on August 11, 2011.
How Beijing built the world's largest high-speed rail network in less than a decade.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
CNN's Becky Anderson looks at how practicing underwater is the perfect way to prepare for spacewalks.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0917 GMT (1717 HKT)
An emotional Brazil fan reacts after being defeated by Germany 7-1 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Spectacular Germany outplays Brazil to reach the World Cup final with a 7-1 win over the hosts.
Even those who aren't in the line of fire feel the effects of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since extremists attacked.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0641 GMT (1441 HKT)
CNN's Jim Bittermann takes a look at a family who found the remains of their great- grandfather 100 years later.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT