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Iraqi Finance Minister Announces Resignation At Protest


Iraq's Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi has announced his resignation at an antigovernment protest.

Issawi, a prominent Sunni, told a crowd of demonstrators in Ramadi, western Iraq's Anbar Province, that he was resigning to protest the Shi'ite-led government's policies.

He said he did not want to be part of what he called a "sectarian government."

Tens of thousands of Sunni Muslims have been demonstrating for weeks against Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, accusing him of persecuting Iraq's Sunni minority.

In December, the arrest of several of Issawi's guards ignited the recent wave of protests.

Iraq has also recently seen an increase in violence.

In the worst attacks on March 1, two bombs at a livestock market in Diwaniyah, some 200 kilometers south of Baghdad, killing six people and injuring at least 60.

Also, two roadside bombs exploded in a village near Dujail, north of Baghdad, killing one person, while one soldier died in a car bombing in the northern city of Mosul.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.

The March 1 explosions came a day after at least 26 people were killed and more than 60 injured in several bomb attacks in the Baghdad area and shootings in northern Iraq.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa
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