Iraqi minister resigns amid protests
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.
- 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.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0241 GMT (1041 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0945 GMT (1745 HKT)
The lives of everyone close to Oscar Pistorius and the girl he killed are changed forever, his siblings say.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0453 GMT (1253 HKT)
Gene Simmons reflects on 40 years of KISS, and how even rock royalty needs sound business principles.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1331 GMT (2131 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.