Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Iraq’s electricity minister resigns after thousands protest
Iraq ’s electricity minister, Karim Waheed, has been forced to resign after thousands of Iraqi’s, including local council members, took to the streets angered by continual power cuts in temperatures now reaching 120°F. Waheed’s decision came shortly after a day of violent protests, in the southern city of Nassiriya, during which protesters retaliated by throwing debris at the police. The protest reached fever pitch when two people were killed in Basra, after policed open fire on the crowds.
During the ongoing demonstrations, one of four senior Shi’a clerics in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Bashir Hussain Najafi, issued a statement condemning the electricity shortages and defended the right to hold peaceful demonstrations. The protests over power cuts, taking place against a backdrop of political uncertainty, as the country waits for the formation of a new government, are among the key concerns for Iraqis.
Picked by the country’s Shi’a political coalition in 2006 Waheed spent 4 years in office and even in relatively good times, power supplies were erratic, varying from district to district, with supplies limited to just a few hours a day. Waheed attributed his resignation to political "wranglings" and suggested that his rivals used the "electricity issue” to force him out of his post and achieve their own “political gains."
For more news and expert analysis please see Iraq Focus.