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
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
It's a very big challenge but NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan thinks it can be done.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0039 GMT (0839 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert explains how the most recent ISIS video differs from the other previous hostage execution videos.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
A Syrian cleric condemns ISIS and its execution of U.S. hostage Peter Kassig.
November 16, 2014 -- Updated 1720 GMT (0120 HKT)
Volunteer fighters in eastern Ukraine dig down just 800 meters from the front line.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
TV anchor wears the same suit for a year. Female colleague wears new outfit daily. Who gets criticized?
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 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.